The Anchor River Inn sign overlooks the Sterling Highway on Nov. 10, 2018, in Anchor Point, Alaska, announcing that the business is under new management. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)

The Anchor River Inn sign overlooks the Sterling Highway on Nov. 10, 2018, in Anchor Point, Alaska, announcing that the business is under new management. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)

Anchor Point landmark stays in business under new management

If you’ve driven through Anchor Point at any time within the past few weeks, you may have noticed a change on the Anchor River Inn’s message board: “New Management.” Locals Kyle and Brittnay Akee, along with their business partners Billy and Mamie Walker, took over from former managers Jesse and Jennifer Clutts on Oct. 19.

The Akees are in the process of purchasing the Anchor River Inn, but the sale has not yet been finalized. They signed a management agreement to refrain from shutting the business down for several months while still operating under the original banking and liquor licenses until they can be purchased as well. Most of the original staff has also stayed on, though the Akees hired a new cook, prep cook and dishwasher for the restaurant.

The business was temporarily closed during the transfer process, but the Akees quickly reopened one department at a time. The grocery and liquor stores reopened on Oct. 19, the same day they signed the management agreement. The lounge held a soft opening on Wednesday, Oct. 24, in preparation for a live music event on Friday, Oct. 26, and the restaurant reopened on Thursday, Nov. 8. The motel and fitness center are also up and running, though the hotel rooms adjacent to the restaurant are currently unavailable.

Being long-time local residents, the upcoming new owners have an emotional connection with the Anchor River Inn. Brittnay Akee grew up in Anchor Point, while Kyle has lived in the area for over a decade. As they live close to the Inn, they would pass it every day and often ate at the restaurant.

“It seemed out of reach at first,” Brittnay said of purchasing the property. “Then we went and had breakfast, talked about it, talked to the realtor, and it all fell into place. It seemed crazy at first, but I was born and raised here. I ate here, I bought food here, I would ride my horse past here.”

The Akees were the only ones to put in an offer for the business.

“We saw over the years the decline in business, so we kind of saw it coming, and it was more of a ‘why not’ type of thing,” Kyle said.

Several changes and updates have already been made to the business. The restaurant boasts a new menu that so far includes pizza, burgers and appetizers. While the menu is small to start, it will continue to grow as the new managers settle into the routine of running the Anchor River Inn. The kitchen also has new flooring and the liquor store has received a facelift since the Akees and Walkers cleaned it and rearranged the shelves to allow for better access and sightlines.

The Inn hosted a community cleanup day on Saturday, Nov., 10 where the new managers, along with their families and local volunteers, worked on repainting the restaurant and cleaning and rearranging shelving in the grocery store.

Kyle and Brittnay Akee noted the great community response they’ve seen since the Anchor River Inn reopened.

“Certain people have been here a lot, whenever they have time. It’s a constant haul-to,” Kyle said. “The public has not only been supportive, but patient.”

The Akees and Walkers have been working to update the Anchor River Inn in addition to their regular busy lives. Brittnay Akee works as a medical assistant at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer. Mamie Walker is a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. Kyle Akee and Billy Walker run Keystone Construction LLC together.

“Every single one of us have full-time jobs,” Kyle said. “So we come here in the morning and in the evening, and on the weekends, and the only way that is possible is because the employees here that stayed on are excellent.”

The partners have goals for the future of the Anchor River Inn beyond what accomplishments they have already made. For the restaurant-adjacent hotel, they will do a complete remodel down to the studs, along with installing a new roof and new plumbing. The motel will receive a new roof, new carpets, and new vanities, fixtures, and beds. The bathrooms and showers in the fitness center will eventually be replaced. They also plan on replacing the existing deck on the back of the restaurant with a new, larger one.

“The view of the river is excellent. If we put a deck in that direction and cleared some trees, you can see the bridge from there and the river,” Kyle said

The Anchor River Inn has been hosting live music events to celebrate its new beginning and to welcome returning and new patrons. Local artist Tim Heimbold played at the lounge on Oct. 26 to celebrate its reopening, with approximately 170 people attending. Colleen Sims and her band True Story played at the Inn on Friday, Nov. 9, with approximately 150 people attending. Momo Blues will be playing this Friday at 7 p.m. The Anchor River Inn hopes to host live music every Friday for patrons to enjoy.

Though plans are not yet cemented, the Inn also hopes in the future to host billiards tournaments as well as the Homer Dart League for games and tournaments.

“We’re not holding back at all,” Kyle said.

Delcenia Cosman is a freelance writer who lives in Anchor Point.

The Anchor River Inn liquor store, shown here on Nov. 10, 2018 in Anchor Point, Alaska, boasts a fresh facelift courtesy of new managers Kyle and Brittnay Akee, with their business partners Billy and Mamie Walker. The grocery store will be receiving similar updates. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)

The Anchor River Inn liquor store, shown here on Nov. 10, 2018 in Anchor Point, Alaska, boasts a fresh facelift courtesy of new managers Kyle and Brittnay Akee, with their business partners Billy and Mamie Walker. The grocery store will be receiving similar updates. (Photo by Delcenia Cosman)

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