You’ve heard of an accidental tourist, right? But an accidental restaurateur?
When Brian and Lia Menten’s restaurant tenants closed shop in 2008, the Mentens searched for someone to take over the Coos Bay business. No dice. So they decided to do it themselves.
Looking back on that decision with a laugh, Brian describes the learning curve as “pretty brutal.” But today, he and his wife Lia are the proud owners of one of Coos Bay’s most popular dining spots.
At Sharkbites Seafood Café, fresh ingredients and a handmade ethic rule from top to bottom. That means fresh cut fish and fries, house-made sauces (including cocktail and tartar sauces, slaws and salsas) house-baked burger buns, and desserts made from scratch. (Last summer the Mentens processed more than 400 pounds of Oregon cherries and preserved them in balsamic vinegar for their ever-popular cheesecake.) Even the cocktail mixers are all squeezed to order.
Customers flock to Sharkbites for tacos bursting with Oregon pink shrimp or Alaskan cod, Painted Hills burgers and mouthwatering Dungeness crab cakes, which take a star turn on the daily brunch menu as crab cakes benedict (Yes, the benedict sauce is made to order). At the restaurant’s small fish counter, customers can purchase fresh fish to cook at home.
Lia, a self-taught cook, developed the menu and oversees the kitchen while Brian, when he’s not manning the counter at their adjacent Waxers Surf and Skate shop, can be found waiting tables. Both are doing what they love.
“We have a passion for the restaurant, the food and the community,” Brian says.
Turns out that passion is mutual. For two years running, readers of the local newspaper The World have singled out Sharkbites for best fish and chips as well as best dinner and best seafood in the annual “Best of the South Coast” contest. Now that’s no accident.
Hours: Monday through Thursday 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.