Words & Deeds

This busy Eagle eatery gets ‘crushed.’ So owner to open competing, refined new restaurant nearby.

Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery in Eagle has a popularity problem.

Crowds jam-pack the noisy nightspot just off Eagle Road, eagerly ordering cold martinis and hot sandwiches.

Hopeful latecomers? They get to wait.

“I hate to say this and have it put in print,” confesses restaurateur Kevin Settles, who also owns Bardenay locations in Downtown Boise and Coeur d’Alene. “We really have been too busy.

“It sounds funny, but we’re not set up for people to wait outside the door for an hour. We’ve been having to create spaces for people to wait. It literally has been busier than we can comfortably handle with that size.”

Faced with such a dilemma, what is a successful businessman to do?

Create competition with himself.

By late February, Settles plans to open Coyne’s, a new restaurant at 676 E. Riverside Drive. That’s a quarter-mile away from Bardenay, 155 E. Riverside Drive. Drive past, and you’ll see that construction has started.

A tribute to his mother’s maiden name, Coyne’s will offer a “more refined” restaurant experience than Bardenay, Settles says. Staff will dress nicer. Service will be paramount. A private dining area will accommodate large parties.

Bardenay liquor will be served at Coyne’s, but there won’t be a distillery on the premises.

And get this, Bardenay party animals: Reservations will be taken at Coyne’s.

“It will be more low key,” Settles says. “You know how my spaces are big, open and we encourage large groups to move tables around? This will be a little more formal. A lot more intimate. It’s a little more linear-style building, Frank Loyd Wright-style building.”

Coyne’s will occupy a Treasure Valley restaurant echelon between the inviting fun of Bardenay and the spendy fine dining of Chandlers Steakhouse in Boise. The menu — priced a bit higher than Bardenay’s — is still being finalized. It will offer flavorful American food, Settles says.

“We always want to do things that are interesting, things that are difficult to do at home. We’ll have a gourmet burger, we’ll have a rotisserie chicken. Steaks. We’ll probably do more white fish, whereas Bardenay does salmon and trout. We might have a really interesting appetizer that’s like a take on a taco. Like I said, everything’s in flux.”

The 6,000-square-foot restaurant and bar will seat about 200 inside, he says. Around 50 more will be able to relax outside on a covered patio — a space ritzy enough to meet expectations created by the award-winning outdoor mecca at Bardenay, which is nestled next to the Boise River in Eagle.

Coyne’s patio “will have fans, it will have heat, so we can utilize it year-round,” Settles says. “I think it will be cool. It will be nice for that neighborhood. Dramatically different from what we have at Bardenay.”

Settles never planned to open another restaurant, he says. The owners of the Hilton Garden Inn, which is next to Bardenay in Eagle, approached him about two years ago. They’re building another hotel down the road. Why not create a similar arrangement? “It’s worked out really well,” Settles says. “The hotel relationship we have already.”

Settles also felt obligated to give Bardenay employees a chance to further their careers, he says. “The staff’s really excited about the opportunities for advancement,” he says.

When the ball started rolling, Settles wasn’t aware that The Tavern at Eagle Island — which opened earlier this month — was coming. Talk of additional food-and-drink businesses coming to the area has cropped up since the project started, too, he says.

Would any of this future knowledge have altered his plan? Perhaps. But Settles believes there are enough mouths to feed for multiple businesses to succeed.

“People in Eagle dine out a lot,” he says. “It’s a very good market.”

And maybe, just maybe, things will settle down at bustling Bardenay. At least to a comfortable chaos.

“I think the staff’s done a really great job, but they have been crushed for the last year,” Settles admits. “To create more dining options, I think, is healthy for that neighborhood.”

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he’s also been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.