Juneau seafood restaurant gets fresh look with new ownership

Proprietors plan to have eatery ready to open in April after remodeling

Posted: Monday, March 15, 2004

The owners of Marlintini's Lounge bought the Fisherman's Wharf restaurant in Merchants Wharf in February, and plan to open the remodeled restaurant in April.

Owners Jason Maroney and Ethan Billings have begun to remodel the restaurant. But they could not say how the look will change, other than saying the new restaurant will be a "step up" from the old Fisherman's Wharf, Maroney said.

"As my chef said, we're adding another star to our rating," Maroney said. "... It won't be as much of a fish and chips place."

Though the restaurant will feature seafood, some of the menu items will be new in Juneau, Maroney said. The owners are still developing ideas for the atmosphere and style of the restaurant.

"Basically we're doing something unique here," he said from his cell phone while supervising construction at the restaurant. "And we'll be open by the end of April."

The new owners will keep the restaurant open year-round, and are considering having live entertainment.

Billings, the late Jim Cashen and two business partners opened a nightclub called Hoochi's in 1995. In 2000, the owners renamed the club Marlintini's Lounge. When Cashen died in April last year, Maroney joined Billings as a business partner.

Billings and Maroney bought Fisherman's Wharf from Randy and Candy Held, who had owned the restaurant for seven years.

"It was the most gratifying thing I've ever done, owning that restaurant and interacting with the tourists," said Randy Held.

He sold the restaurant because he thought Billings and Maroney had a good plan for the space, and because he wanted more time to work on a new business project.

"I took it up a couple of notches from where it was at as far as the menu and the aesthetics and all around, and they're taking it up three or four notches from there," Randy Held said.

Billings and Maroney also plan to remodel Marlintini's. The owners are keeping mum about the nature of that project as well, Maroney said. They're in the process of finding new furniture for the lounge.

Owning one bar in Juneau has simplified the process of opening a second one, Maroney said.

"So many of the things that the club has gone through in the last nine years, it just kind of spills over," he said. "It makes it that much easier."

• Christine Schmid can be reached at christine.schmid@juneauempire.com.

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