Curiosity Shoppe turns off grill

Published 9:54 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

By Staff
Koestline seeking buyerfor Washington landmark
Staff Writer
Washington’s Curiosity Shoppe Cafe &Bar closed its doors not because of an ailing economy but because of an ailing proprietor, said Norm Koestline, who owned the restaurant.
Koestline said a health scare during the summer of 2008 made him realize it was time for him to do less and take more time for himself. Business was strong at the restaurant then, Koestline said, but he decided the restaurant would serve its last meal at the end of 2008.
“We were busy last summer with Turnage shows, festivals and other events that kept people around the downtown area and wanting to dine at the Curiosity Shoppe,” he said. “It was a decision that was made before we were aware of how deep this recession was.”
Koestline said he began actively seeking a buyer during the fourth quarter of 2008. One interested party approached him about purchasing the Curiosity Shoppe and converting it into an oyster bar, he said. A tentative agreement was reached, but it did not come to fruition.
Koestline acknowledges that economic struggles have delayed finding a buyer for the property, but he does not expect an extended delay.
Twelve years ago, when the Curiosity Shoppe opened, it was the only upscale restaurant in downtown Washington. Today, with the surrounding restaurants such as The Meeting Place, Mimi’s, Down On Main Street, The Mecca Grill, Pia’s and Lanier’s, the site that housed the Curiosity Shoppe may have a better use and a different choice when it comes to cuisine and atmosphere, Koestline said.
Koestline bought into the restaurant five years ago and has been its sole owner for the past two years. He said his favorite memory is “meeting people who were coming to town for the first time, to sit down and chat with them a bit, to hear what brought them to Washington.”
Koestline, who moved to Washington 10 years ago, plans to stay in the area.