New restaurant serves simplicity


Photo by Karissa Berg

Top of the Line Seafood & Burgers, owned by Lonnie and Lashay Germain, strives to serve fresh, quality dishes

By Wilson Criscione, News Writer

Lonnie and Lashay Germain are not interested in fancy decorations, flashy menus or luxurious furniture.

Their restaurant, Top of the Line Seafood & Burgers, opened March 17 on First Street next to Mitchell’s Harvest Foods, and it mirrors the couple’s no-nonsense personality.

“We’re not a country club resort. Nothing like that. We want a construction worker that just got off work to come in here. We want college students with all their friends to come in here. We want the retired couple that’s out for a country drive to come in,” said Lashay Germain, co-owner of the restaurant.

They are chiefly concerned with the quality of their food.

“It’s all fresh, all done by hand, every day,” Lashay Germain said.

She said they cut and hand bread their fish multiple times a day. They hand press their burgers, and they make their own sauces.

Chelsea Witter, a senior at EWU, already tried out the new restaurant. Though she described the tables as “outdated,” and was not enthused with the “really cheap table cloths,” she appreciated the food.

“The food was really good,” Witter said. “It was fresh and it was cooked fast. It wasn’t loaded with grease or anything like that.”

The burgers, from the Blazing Burger to the Unbeatable Eagle Burger, range in price from $8 to $12. The seafood menu is slightly more expensive, with the most pricey dish being the Captain’s Platter at $14.95.

Inside, a wooden anchor and captain’s wheel hang next to a painting of a ship at sea. Mirrors and inexpensive decorations occupy the rest of the wall. The couple said they plan on putting a sign outside in the coming weeks and painting the exterior.

Lashay Germain said the name “Top of the Line” came to them when they were purchasing equipment for their drive-thru restaurant in Chattaroy, Wash. They were going to call it “The Five Star Food Shack,” but when co-owner and cook Lonnie Germain kept wanting to buy the best equipment, Lashay finally said, “Quit it! Everything can’t be top of the line!”

Lonnie Germain decided this was the perfect name for a restaurant geared toward the working-class family.

The decision to open a restaurant in Cheney was almost as spontaneous as how they named it.

“We just figured we’d move to anywhere we’d find a building,” Lashay Germain said.

They found the building on Craigslist, and once Lashay Germain decided it was a good idea, they went for it, according to Lonnie Germain.

“She liked it. That was the end of the thought,” Lonnie Germain said before adding: “We looked at a lot of them. She liked this place and we liked the town and looked up the population, you know, minus the college kids, and it seemed like they had a decent enough population to help support a business.”

Lonnie Germain said college students cover about one-third of their customer base. The rest of the business comes from families and retired couples.

Before the restaurant opened, he said the only time he had been to Cheney was when he would fish at Rock Lake. He hopes people going to lakes or to Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge will make up some of the difference in the summer when students are out of town.

Both Lashay and Lonnie Germain have worked in the food business for a while. Lashay began working as a carhop at Sonic when she was 16, and Lonnie owned a fish and chips vending trailer before opening the Top of the Line drive-thru in Chattaroy.

Lonnie Germain said he wants to go back to the way people used to cook, with everything being handmade and nothing pre-done.

“Everything’s modernized, you can’t get away from that,” he said. “But they took the flavor right out of food and we decided to put it back. So that’s what I think makes us different.

“That, and my world-famous fish and chips.”