Thursday, May 14, 2020

Diabla's Kitchen plans move to old Westbank property

Renovation work inside the old Westbank Restaurant.
Diabla's Kitchen, an A Street mainstay for several years, is moving into much roomier digs, as owner Deana Bowles Brower and company are renovating the old Westbank Restaurant property on River Parkway. In a recent Facebook post, Brower said they are eyeing an opening in June, possibly Father's Day weekend. In the meantime, they are carrying on with takeout food from their location at 368 A Street. A seafood fest is also planned for Saturday and Sunday, although seating will be very limited due to community coronavirus concerns. Details can be found here.

As for the new location, this is a welcome development for a property that has been vacant since August 2014. That was when owner Dane Watkins closed it in a dispute with Om Shiv Ganesh, the financially troubled company that was running the nearby tower. Watkins had been leasing the restaurant and convention center to Om Shiv Ganesh, but when the hotel's owner, Idaho Hotel Holdings, filed a default judgment for more than $3.4 million and the tower went into receivership he decided he would shut the restaurant down and look for a new buyer or operator.

The tower was sold at auction in January 2015 for a reported $2.3 million. Various attempts have been made to reopen the restaurant, lounge and convention center.

The Westbank itself dates back to 1928, when Ferris Clark, son of Mayor Barzilla W. Clark, built two log buildings by the Snake River to accommodate motorists on their way to Yellowstone National Park. Over 52 years, Clark expanded with a red brick motel, then a restaurant and lounge, then more motel rooms. He retired in 1980 and died in 1987 at age 79.

After Clark left, the property went by different names, including Red Lion and finally the Hotel on the Falls. It was owned by Jim and Sharon Bennett and Robert and Sharon Paulus, the children of Olga Gustafson Rigby, who had taken over after Clark’s death. In 2012, however, the hotel was deeded to trusts set up by the families while Watkins bought the motel, restaurant, lounge and convention center.
An old postcard from the '60s, when the restaurant and lounge were added.