Spokane Valley-based M3K LLC is developing a Spokane Valley restaurant and sports bar called The Ref. The new business is expected to open in early February.
Fred Lopez, who owns M3K and The Ref, says he's remodeling about 7,000 square feet of space at 14208 E. Sprague that formerly was leased for 13 years by Owens Auction Gallery. The auction business moved out in May to a larger space on Spokane's South Hill.
Lopez says he anticipates hiring 30 to 40 employees for The Ref.
M3K owns the 96,000-square-foot business complex where the restaurant and sports bar will join several other tenants, including Walker's Furniture, a gym called The Fitness Center, a hair salon, a martial-arts business, a dance academy, and a yoga center.
Lopez also co-owns The Fitness Center Inc. along with Gene Cavender and Joe Fenske. The 60,000-square-foot gym has four full-sized basketball courts, and it offers tournaments and events for basketball, volleyball, and racquetball players, Lopez says.
The idea for the restaurant came up as a way to offer a gathering place nearby the gym for clients to go for food and drinks, Lopez says.
"It's going to be a family-style restaurant," Lopez says. "With having ownership in the gym, we just want a place for people to go to afterward."
Lopez declines to disclose the total remodeling costs, but he says the work that started about a month ago is extensive and will include adding a full kitchen, a 2,000-square-foot event room, an outdoor patio, and other upgrades. Lopez says he's acting as his own general contractor.
Lopez and his business partners in the gym also own The Fitness Center on Spokane's North Side, located at 110 W. Price near the North Division "Y." In a 2010 Journal article, Cavender said the partners spent about $400,000 updating the 33,000-square-foot facility that was a former North Side Global Fitness outlet that closed.
They opened the Valley gym in a former Global Fitness space about a year ago, Lopez says.
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