Simplicity reigns for new Bayside owners
Glen and Christy Witham sat in a booth in the back of Bayside Tap and Steakhouse, looked out toward the river and watched the rail cars rumble along the track with a look of content familiarity.
They were home.
The same Canadian Pacific rail cars that can be seen through the back windows of the Withams’ newest venture ran past a place on Railway Street in Loretto, Minn.
That’s where Glen and Christy Witham met 26 years ago as employees, and that place – the Choo Choo Bar – on Railway Street became the first restaurant they owned.
Bayside Tap and Steakhouse is the sixth restaurant for the Withams, who found their way back to Minnesota after leaving the state for Indiana in 2006.
The move to Indiana was supposed to be a move away from the restaurant business, Glen Witham said. Christy Witham was running a vending company and Glen Witham had his own sign business.
After selling the companies they found themselves searching for a restaurant once again. They bought a restaurant and also ended up owning a small diner in Indiana, but Minnesota was never far from their minds.
“We always kept calling Minnesota home,” Glen Witham said.
With their daughter and her family living in Little Falls, Minn., the Withams were growing tired of not being around to see their grandchildren.
After selling both restaurants in Indiana, Glen and Christy Witham hit the road in search of the newest stop on their journey, both thinking they would end up close to their daughter. On the way, however, they stopped to look at a restaurant for sale in Ellsworth.
Glen Witham said they knew right away it wasn’t what they wanted, but while they were there he saw a sign that read “Red Wing 12 miles.” They decided to see what Red Wing was all about.
“As soon as we crossed that bridge we knew this was it,” he said.
The Withams looked at a few different places around town but nothing was falling into place. By then, however, they had already fallen in love with Red Wing, Glen Witham said.
It was then the Withams noticed the building at 1516 Old West Main St.
They called and set up a meeting with owners Paul and Bev Thompson and as soon as they walked in the door they knew it was the place they had been looking for, Christy Witham said.
After buying the restaurant the Withams needed to decide on the kind of place it would be. Glen Witham said they tried to make it a place they would enjoy as well as provide the community with something they didn’t already have.
“We’re doing a traditional steakhouse,” he said. “That’s our format and that’s what we have – steak, steak and steak.”
Christy Witham said they do have other selections such as ahi tuna, shrimp, chicken and pork chops.
“We have a few options, but we’re keeping it very simple,” she said.
One of those options, Glen Witham added, is their signature 2-pound T-bone steak they call “The Slab.”
Glen Witham said they have been open for a month, but they wanted to take it slow from the start.
Bayside Tap and Steakhouse is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and the Withams said they hope to start serving lunch in a month.
Right now they have around 10 people on staff, Glen Witham cooks and runs the back and Christy Witham runs the front, which is the way they have always done it. Their son, Jacob, also works at the restaurant part time when he isn’t at his full-time job at the St. James Hotel.
The Withams said they enjoy living in Red Wing and they love the community, but most importantly they came back to Minnesota to be able to spend time with family.
“We came back home to be together,” Glen Witham said. “In more ways than one, we’re home again.”
What: Bayside Tap and Steakhouse
Where: 1516 Old West Main st.
When: Opens Tuesday-Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.