Two restaurants moved out of the Key Peninsula during the same week of Sept. 16. Blondie’s posted a fuchsia pink sign on the window that read, “To our loyal guests, Saturday, Sept. 15 will be Blondie’s last day of business on the bluff in Key Center. Check our Website for our new upcoming location in Port Orchard. Your patronage has been appreciated…” Blondie’s is relocating in the new Bethel Centre in Port Orchard, a half block north of the Fred Meyer store.

Pablo de la Cruz at the Port Orchard location of El Sombrero, which will soon have a second location, in Key Center. Photo by Danna Webster

Huckleberry Inn owner Martha Swanson sold her restaurant to Pablo and Cathy de la Cruz, owners of El Sombrero in Port Orchard. Swanson said she checked out the food at their Port Orchard location to make sure Key Peninsula folks would like it. “It was good; real nice people, too,” she said. Friends and employees held a retirement appreciation party for Swanson on Sept. 16, two days after signing of the sale paperwork was complete.

The de la Cruzes started working on the Key Center premises the week of Sept. 24 and plan to introduce a Mexican décor. “I had been looking for a location on the Key Peninsula for a really long time and then I made this deal with Martha. I look forward to doing business there,” said Pablo de la Cruz, whose commute to Key Center is shorter than to Port Orchard.

Pablo and Cathy de la Cruz have owned the El Sombrero restaurant in Port Orchard since 1990. Pablo is originally from a village near Guadalajara, Mexico, and Cathy is from Anacortes. The couple has three children, one in elementary school, a junior and a senior in high school. The two older children help in the restaurant and will help at Key Center, also. De la Cruz plans to close the old Huckleberry building for remodeling and licensing updates. The opening timeline will depend on county approvals.

“Our philosophy is a family place,” he said. “Grandma, grandpa, all the kids —everybody is welcome. Families don’t have to drive far like to Port Orchard or Gig Harbor.”

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