The smallest ship in Linda Derschang’s fleet will set out on a new journey under new captains. Northwest nautical Linda’s joint Bait Shop has new owners.
Longtime Derschang Group admirals Mike Leifur and Jonah Bergman are taking over the four-year-old north Broadway bar effective Tuesday.
“I see this as a great opportunity for Mike and Jonah to grow and pursue their dream of owning a bar,” Derschang said in a statement sent to CHS after a few weeks of pestering her about the rumor. “I’ve worked very closely with them for many of the formative years of my company and I feel like I could not be leaving Bait Shop in a better set of hands.”
Under the agreement, Leifur, who has worked with Derschang for 14 years and has been her company’s longest running employee, and Bergman, a six-year veteran, will “continue to maintain close ties with the company,” the announcement states. Leifur has been general manager of Linda’s while Bergman has served as creative director for the various Derschang assets.
While they get their ownership sea legs, Leifur and Bergman aren’t planning any major changes to the Bait Shop offerings and employees.
Derschang, who has been doing business on Capitol Hill in one shape or another since the late 1980s, said the change is an effort to simplify her life. “At this point in my career, I am looking to downsize my workload a bit and spend a bit more time traveling and on my Instagram,” Derschang writes. The Derschang Group continues to own and operate Linda’s Tavern, Oddfellows, Little Oddfellows, Tallulah’s, and Smith, each on Capitol Hill, and King’s Hardware in Ballard. Nobody’s perfect.
Selling Bait Shop also disconnects Derschang from Broadway where she opened a boutique in 1987 called Basic which she sold in order to open Linda’s. Linda’s, by the way, turned 20 in 2014. As of 2015, Derschang’s bars and restaurants employed more than 250 people.
Bait Shop opened in late 2012 and helped boost the nightlife and bar scene on northern Broadway with fried food and fishing village tavern vibes. It’s a “Northwest nautical” thing, Derschang said at the time — the kind of place you’d wander into after a day downing Bromine, drinking Rainier for breakfast, and chasing coho on the SS Hipster, we said back then.
While Derschang said she is, indeed, looking forward to a streamlined set of businesses, she isn’t currently planning any more spinoffs. She also doesn’t see her sendoff of Bait Shop with members of the Derschang Group family as a plan for the future of the other joints she has built and nurtured. “It’s the smallest of my businesses and Mike and Jonah have a strong connection to it so it simply made sense,” Derschang said.
As for how you set a price when dealing with family, Linda suggests consultants. “We had a couple of business consultants help us evaluate the price,” Derschang said. “And of course there was some negotiating. They are savvy businessmen after working on my team for so long but we were able to work out a deal that worked for everyone!”