Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas was among the local officials who came out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 14.
Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas was among the local officials who came out for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 14.

After a nearly eight-year hiatus and change of hands, Garlic Jim’s has reopened in Monroe.

The old storefront has been filled only once by a gluten-free bakery since it was vacated by the Mill Creek-based company, said Garlic Jim’s cofounder Dwayne Northrop. The interior was found nearly how it was left by the previous franchise owners, he said.

“We cleaned the walls and were good to go,” Northrop said.

Bothell resident Peter Brown has taken over operations. He purchased the branch earlier this year.

Brown is Pacific Northwest native. After graduating high school he joined the military, came back for college and decided to leave the state once again. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico and his graduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Much of Brown’s adult life was spent in outside Washington. He ran various retail businesses in New Orleans and Sante Fe before making his was back to Washington about a year ago.

Brown plans to relocate to Monroe as soon as he can. He said he is eager to start his career as a businessman in the city.

The Garlic Jim’s storefront is across North Kelsey from Fred Meyer near Tuscano’s Italian Kitchen and Artisan Foodworks of Monroe, which was formerly The Dashing Dutchman’s Deli. As Northrop mentioned, the space was nearly move-in ready, Brown said.

Brown first started researching what it would take to run a business of his own about a year ago. Garlic Jim’s was one of the first options he found. He said he had his eyes peeled for a well-established company, but not one that was so big he would be working with a regional manager. He wanted to be able to speak directly to the people at the top.

“Knowing that I would have the support of the corporate entity nearby made me feel a lot more confident,” he said.

Brown settled on buying a franchise because he knew the kinks had already been worked out. Northrop said the company first opened in 2004.

None of the original founders go by Jim, Northrop said, adding the name was an accident. Everyone had settled on including “Garlic” in the title, but they were unsure what to finish it with. When presenting the idea to potential investors, the moniker was placed as a space filler. It was a hit, he said.

Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas came to cut the ceremonial ribbon on Thursday afternoon. He said Garlic Jim’s will give residents another option for dining out.

“It is always nice to have another business come to town,” Thomas said.

The city of Monroe tries to make opening up as easy as possible, the mayor said. That comes in the form of a streamlined permitting process, and connecting the owner with regional resources, such as the Snohomish County Health District if someone is opening a restaurant, he said.

Thomas said it is usually the property owners who work to ensure a variety of businesses lease out their storefronts, which also helps bring attention to other businesses in the area, he said.

Northrop and Brown said they believe the franchise will do well in the community. It did when it was previously open, they said.

Garlic Jim’s business model is to provide a product that was prepared the same way as national chains, such as Dominos, Northrop said, but the difference is that fresher, healthier ingredients are used.

Northrop said the company tries to keep up with different trends by offering a rotating monthly selection of pizzas not found on the main menu. They use real mozzarella on their pies, which is uncommon for larger companies; the sauce was never a paste.

“Ours smells like a tomato, and it tastes like a tomato,” he said.

Brown said he wasn’t surprised to see as many orders coming in after a few days of opening the doors. The company worked hard to make sure Monroe knew what was coming, he said.

The new business owner said he has plans to get closely involved in the community. He hopes to sponsor local sports teams or marching bands, and wants to make sure his company has an annual presence at the Evergreen State Fair.

Garlic Jim’s isn’t appealing to just one demographic, Brown said. It’s the residents that “are excited that it’s here, or excited it’s back, so it’s win-win for us,” he said.