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D.I. changes hands

by: Photo By Joe McHaney - The Desert Inn Bar and Grill bartender Nick Craig serves a tall beer Sunday. Craig  is part of a new ownership staff that has goals to turn the D.I. into Jefferson County’s best bar and grill.

The Desert Inn Bar and Grill is undergoing several major changes.
   Thanks to new ownership, the longtime establishment in Metolius is getting a facelift, better yet, an entire makeover.
    "Larry Semm, the owner, spotted this place two years ago and felt this place is an oasis in the desert that needs to be awakened," said Tim Craig, who is the Desert Inn general manager and executive chef. "There are not a lot of establishments close to this one and we believe we can make this work."
   Currently the Desert Inn is experiencing renovations, but it hasn't closed the doors entirely.
   "It was very important to Larry to keep the place running, so that the local customers can continue to enjoy," Craig said.
   Nearly $100,000 of renovations are being poured into the bar and grill, which will include new flooring, bathrooms and an added beer garden outside.
   "Everything will basically be replaced," Craig said. "We've opened up the windows to add more lighting and we just want to make it family friendly."
   Signs of upgrades are already visible. New bar stools, tables and eight flat screen televisions are in place.
   "You will see some big-time changes, but at the same time the layout will remain the same," Craig said. "We want to draw families in here to eat. This will not just be a place to drink anymore."
   Craig, 52, began cooking at the age of 13 in the Seattle area. He has cooked for Ray's Boat House, worked at the Central Production Kitchen for Microsoft and has run several culinary operations in the Seattle area.
   "Larry wants the Desert Inn to be known for its food and that's why he hired me," Craig said. "We're going to feature a New York deli style of food, such as wings, burgers and sandwiches, but soon we will have a full menu."
   The Desert Inn Bar and Grill will have two pool tables, a shuffleboard, lotto and will feature live music on the weekends. While it will serve as a place to enjoy refreshments, Craig said they plan to build a reputation based on its food.
   "We're going to roll out buffets and a variety of items to cater to all sorts of people," Craig said of the Desert Inn, which will employ 20-24 in rotation. "We want people to come and enjoy themselves."
   The Desert Inn Bar and Grill opens at 11 a.m. daily.