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Long-standing Maxwell House Restaurant under new ownership

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 13, 2020

After more than 50 years of operating the Maxwell House Restaurant, Richard and Kay Culnane retired and sold the business. The new owners plan to retain the character of the restaurant and bar. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
After more than 50 years of operating the Maxwell House Restaurant, Richard and Kay Culnane retired and sold the business. The new owners plan to retain the character of the restaurant and bar. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The 85-year-old Maxwell House Restaurant has new owners, who plan to retain the character and legacy of the longstanding West Central establishment.

After more than 50 years, Maxwell House owners Richard and Kay Culnane chose to retire and sell the restaurant at 1425 N. Ash St.

Felony Flats LLC – whose principals include investor Arman Mohsenian, former Gonzaga University basketball player Casey Calvary, William Page, and restaurateurs Ethan Higa and Alex Springer – purchased the restaurant Jan. 2 for $560,000, according to the Spokane County Assessor’s Office.

“We are planning to keep (the restaurant) the same and keep the original legacy going, but we do want to make slight upgrades and bring it a little bit into the 21st century,” Higa said Monday.

The 8,000-square-foot Maxwell House, which opened in 1934, also has nine upstairs apartments that will be renovated.

The bar has one of Spokane’s oldest liquor licenses, according to an SVN Cornerstone property listing.

“We are going to renovate slowly,” Springer said. “Our biggest plans are to showcase the volleyball court with a deck for seating and dining, and renovating the conference room for group outings and private events.”

It’s unusual for a group of buyers to purchase a business and keep it unchanged, said Richard Fox, commercial broker for Kiemle Hagood, also a former Zag.

“It’s more common for new ownership groups to expand on and improve what was built,” said Fox, who represented the buyers in the sale. “The takeway is, it’s been there for 70 to 80 years and I think the buyer really liked the idea of keeping the history going.”

Higa and Springer, who will be operating the restaurant, have extensive bartending and restaurant management experience. Higa most recently was employed at The Wave Island Sports Grill & Sushi Bar downtown, and Springer is a former manager of the Downriver Grill.

The restaurant’s menu will include a combination of old favorites, such as broasted chicken, and new, healthier options with fresh ingredients, Springer said.

Richard Culnane’s brother, Steve, will remain a cook at the restaurant. The former owner was not immediately available for comment.

The group of investors and friends know the Maxwell House well, having played several volleyball games throughout the years on the establishment’s outdoor sand volleyball court.

“We used to go here all the time to play volleyball in our early 20s,” Mohsenian said. “We all had a personal connection to the building. The other thing is West Central is turning around, and we wanted to be in the middle of all that too.”

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