Bernie Bradley was sitting at the front door at high-top at Bradley House Restaurant, sipping a Coke as customers streamed through the door on Tuesday night.
In front of her, she had a petition and a map of Anchorage neighborhoods.
“Do you live in Meg Zaletel’s district?” she would ask customers who were coming through the door to dine at her well-loved establishment, just five days before she shuts her doors for good.
She was picking up dozens of signatures on the petition to recall Zaletel from the Anchorage Assembly.
Zaletel and other left-wing members of the Assembly are who Bernie holds responsible for having to shut her restaurant’s doors. Due to the numerous government mandates and shutdowns of restaurants over the past year, she can’t get workers to help in the kitchen or to serve customers, and she’s emotionally exhausted by the whiplash of open-shut-and-limited-capacity mandates; she made the decision earlier this year that it was time to let it go.
Bradley told Must Read Alaska she has sold the restaurant to another popular local restaurant owner, who she hopes will open up a new concept restaurant and continue the tradition in some respect, even if under a different name.
A lot of local history is ending this week. The Bradley House is on property that was purchased by Bernie’s parents in 1962. Her parents (Irish dad, Okinawan mom) moved the family house to the second level in 1964, and ran various businesses on the first floor, including a bar. That bar had the same liquor license she uses today. Her parents started Oriental Gardens restaurant officially in 1966.
“By the time my dad stopped building the restaurant had in addition to traditional dining areas….26 single table private dining rooms, 7 banquet rooms, 8 teppanyaki tables, a cocktail lounge with dancing & live music. It was a 25,000 square foot building with seating for 700. It was a south Anchorage landmark for decades. It burned completely in May of 1996,” she said.
Bradley House opened in 2000 and reactivated the Oriental Gardens liquor license. It was intended to be a bar with some greasy finger foods, “but South Anchorage customers made the concept change with affectionate tenacity. the food, cocktails, flower beds, deck, waterfalls, changing menus, sound berm, summer outdoor food/bar service, restroom cleanliness, and much more…were repeatedly requested and the reward has been uncanny South Anchorage loyalty,” Bradley said.
Bradley House was packed on Tuesday night with every table full and people even sitting at tables under umbrellas on the deck in back as the rain came down, and the remaining wait staff was working orders as fast as they could. Customers were greeting Bradley and many seemed like they wanted to be there to support her during her final week in the restaurant business after a lifetime of restaurants.
The final night for Bradley House is July 25, 21 years after Bernie Bradley raised a destination restaurant from the ashes of the old Oriental Gardens.