The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
The Neches River Wheelhouse restaurant has been pretty busy in the 45 days since the doors were opened.
Scores of people have visited Port Neches’ newest eatery and many are now return customers.
“On behalf of the citizens and city council of Port Neches, I want to say how thrilled we are,” Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson said during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday. “This is a perfect example of the city of Port Neches and a group of investors getting together and working together. This proves to be a success and you can look for a lot more to come.”
Bert Lamson, one of the eight investors, said the restaurants boundaries don’t stop in Mid-County as the restaurant has seen diners from many different areas.
Lamson alluded to upwards of an hour wait for some who visit the restaurant but called the restaurant — with its view of the Neches River, the perfect atmosphere. The upstairs portion of the restaurant is reserved for diners waiting for a table and allows them to have a drink while waiting. A hostess will call or page them when a table is ready.
“Food sales are 75 percent of our gross income with the remaining 25 percent in beverages,” Lamson said. “This shows you this is a true restaurant.”
The Wheelhouse opened with limited menu in May during the city’s Riverfest celebration. Owners have listened to their customers, he said, and made adjustments to the menu.
“We have a full menu now. We’ve taken some things off and added to it,” he said. “We’ll try something out, and if we like it, will slowly add it to the menu.”
The restaurant has also adjusted the menu’s price range to accommodate customers’ requests. There are now items in the $10 range as well as higher priced items.
“We take care of both spectrums, from one end to the other,” he added.
The owners also hope to one day have access from the water.
“The biggest request we’ve been getting is from people who want to pull their boats up,” he said, adding that he’s heard from people from Beaumont to Kemah. “If we can get boat access, it will open up a whole new business for us.”
The success of the restaurant is tied to thoughts of future development along the waterfront acreage owned by the City of Port Neches, and Lamson said he’d be happy to have another restaurant open up next door one day.
Investors worked with city officials and its economic development corporation in obtaining the property which came with stipulations to protect the city’s interest. City leaders as well as the investors hope the newly opened restaurant will be a catalyst for future development along the river.