Followup: Marination’s Seacrest transition starts in 2 weeks; Alki Kayak Tours staying

February 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle restaurants | 46 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Usually, word of a new restaurant operator coming to town is met with excitement.

When we learned in December that food-truck stars Marination would be taking over Seacrest as their second bricks-and-mortar … what ensued was something of a mini-uproar.

Granted, this is not your usual restaurant transition. Instead of a seamless sale – or a shutdown, followed by a period of vacancy, followed by someone new moving in – this was a Seattle Parks concessionaire contract, with longtime operator Alki Crab and Fish seeking to keep it, but Marination getting it instead.

With the transition just a few weeks away, we asked Marination’s owners for a chance to sit down and talk about their plans. Co-owner Kamala Saxton came to West Seattle – where she used to live – to talk with us over coffee last Friday.

Of the uproar, she says, after being a little startled at first, she and co-owner Roz Edison (who was out on deliveries Friday and couldn’t join our chat) realized it was ultimately a good thing. “I was thrilled that people cared. It meant that people were interested, vocal about what’s happening in their community. It’s now our job to work at building those relationships with people who were upset at the decision that was made – this is what they were accustomed to for ten years, and we can spend the next ten years winning them over.”

One big thing won’t change:

The first question we asked Kamala was where things stand with Alki Kayak Tours, which has been a subconcessionaire, turning Seacrest into a watersports and land-sports hub with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, skates, and bikes.

Kamala says they have worked out a deal with AKT proprietor Greg Whittaker (which he confirmed to WSB), though it’s not entirely finalized yet. “We met Greg, his wife, their (toddler) son, the employees,” she smiled. “And we’ll remodel his space. It’s a closed-off building from the street – we’re going to open it up,” so even passersby can see it’s a lively space full of watercraft and recreational gear.

That’s far from the only remodeling they’ll be doing. Kamala says the building is supposed to be vacated by March 15th (we are following up separately with Alki Crab and Fish) and then, after the city does some repairs it’s been meaning to do, the Marination remodel will begin.

Take note – that means no food/beverages at the dock this spring; Kamala says they expect to be open by July, though they would love to finish sooner.

She doesn’t have renderings to share yet, but says the changes will be major, “not so many walls,” all restaurant space (instead of the current retail section): “It’s a phenomenal location, with a fantastic view of the city, the Space Needle, the water. We’re charged about the location, not only that it’s on the water, but in West Seattle.” She says they had been saying that if they were to open another “fixed location” – after “Marination Station” on Capitol Hill – “West Seattle is the only one we were looking at.” The Marination Mobile truck has been coming to 35th/Graham in High Point for 2 1/2 years, building a loyal customer base from the start. We photographed Roz just as they prepared to open on Day 1, July 4, 2009:

So what about the specifics of the Seacrest operation? Some had been discussed in original coverage – an expanded menu of Marination’s Korean/Hawaiian offerings, with a fish-and-chips dish (Kamala says that’s still in) as an acknowledgment of classic dockside cuisine. She mentions craft beers, too, and excitement as a beer enthusiast … plus: Hawaiian-style shave ice.

“No d,” she notes – shave, not shaved. (We know, we reply, having lived in Honolulu ourselves.)

Kamala says she can imagine it clear as day – a sunny day – sunny summer day at that – walking along Alki with shave ice from Marination. Something classically Hawaiian – maybe shave ice with azuki beans and vanilla ice cream. And many other flavors (probably something you’d know as more like the mainland-style “snow cone”). “I’m looking forward to getting to know families and their kids, who come down (to Seacrest) to get some.” Marination has never sold dessert, Kamala says, so this will be a first.

As for other food, they plan to include breakfast/brunch. Maybe pancakes with macadamia-nut syrup.

Will West Seattle and its visitors flock to Seacrest for that, and for their trademark dishes like spam musubi, kim-chi (pickled cabbage) quesadillas?

“This is a gamble, a Vegas gamble for us,” Kamala acknowledges. “But if I’m going to gamble on any location in Seattle, I’m going to gamble on a location here. As risky as (the restaurant) business is, I feel like the odds are really strong, in this area.” Not just because of the scenery, but because their truck has a successful history. “There’s a wait list to work in West Seattle with the truck. Our newest employees are, like, when someone is on vacation, they want to work in West Seattle.” The truck crew knows “80 percent of the customers’ names, and their kids’ names,” she says.

Though they had hoped all along to be here someday, Kamala insists they had not “envisioned a 4,000-square-foot building in West Seattle … a hit-it-out-of-the-park grand slam.”

So how did they hear about the Parks Department “request for proposals” in the first place?

Roz was looking at the Parks website “for some odd reason, and ran across it. The RFP was due in a week. I don’t think she slept … she put it together in three days. I think she even called the city to say, ‘Is this REALLY happening?’ and they said, ‘Hurry’.”

They hope to offer the new location as a community/event space. Home, say, to PTA fundraisers. “Event space in this city is so expensive – this will be event space that looks out on the water and will be affordable. We’re hoping it’ll be used by nonprofits and for fundraisers. The pricepoint for food will be pretty reasonable (too). I am excited for this to be used as a community space – it’s at the forefront of our minds as we do the buildout,” for which they’re working with the same contractor as their Capitol Hill location.

Their regular hours, she says, will likely be 6 am-10 pm. There’ll be “an outside bar and an inside bar.” And yes, there’ll be a TV for when the Mariners, Storm, Seahawks are playing. And elements of the Marination “look” – stainless steel, blue with red accents, some gray. No, it won’t be Hawaii kitsch, though they’re looking for some “wall space elements” reminiscent of O’ahu, where Kamala grew up (and if anyone reading this has memorabilia, particularly of Baldwin’s Sweet Shop, she’s looking for that kind of thing).

The agreement has yet to go before the City Council for its final stamp of approval, but Kamala says Marination has a temporary agreement to proceed in the meantime (and they’re planning on publishing weekly online updates about how it’s going).

The working name of the new place is “Marination Marina” (that’s what’s on the liquor-license application), but she says that doesn’t feel quite right, so they’re still brainstorming.

What it’s called, though, isn’t nearly as important as the people who will work there – maybe a dozen at a time, in the busy season – and the people who will come there. Otherwise, they believe it’s “the right location, in the right part of Seattle.”

46 Comments

  1. SOOOOOO excited for this!!!! Is it July yet??? I’m already dreaming of eating pork sliders on the beach! Welcome Marination! Please ignore the vocal minority of people who I am going to assume have never sampled your fine fare before. I’m embarrassed to hear that you even had to respond to the “uproar.” I mean, come on people, we’re talking about fish n’ chips here! Go get your daily dose of trans fat somewhere else and let Marination serve excellent food to the fine people of West Seattle. Can’t wait to see the renovated space!!!

    Comment by corrj — 5:08 pm February 28, 2012 #

  2. Welcome Marination! Your fans await!

    Comment by WS Born & Bred — 5:24 pm February 28, 2012 #

  3. I, for one, will flock to Seacrest for Marination!!! I’ve hunted down the truck at multiple locations and eaten at the Capitol Hill spot – I’m so excited to have this great food and awesome people in my own neighborhood! Whooo!

    Comment by RaindogPhoto — 5:43 pm February 28, 2012 #

  4. corrj – I’m excited as well, although the term ‘pork sliders’ actually trigged my gag response. I usually toss meat when it gets to the slippery stage.

    Comment by brin — 5:46 pm February 28, 2012 #

  5. I feel compelled to reply to corrj. Not a big fried food fan myself, I really liked the fish and chips at Alki Crab & Fish – definitely much less greasy and much more flavorful. In addition to nice customer service (greatly lacking these days) it also fit the scene and made perfect sense. This was where we went for fish and chips and where we took out of town guests. I’m sure I’m not the only one who will miss the presence for more than the food and I’m sorry they had financial troubles that put them in the position to have to fight to stay, and sorry they lost. It feels that they were victims of the crappy recession and that is a sad story.

    That said, I applaud Marination Mobile for responding to the uproar. It was a good feeling to see their response on the blog when this came out. They gave their side of the story in a really understandable way so as the reader, I also understood what was going on for Alki Crab & Fish. Truly a sign of respect for AC&F and for the community & our concerns. I love Marination Mobile as much as I loved Alki Crab and Fish (as a vegetarian in a family of meat eaters I thank them for the very tasty veggie options alongside the Spam & pork that the kids gobble up) I’m looking forward to equally good food, and customer service. With their response, they’ve set the bar high so far.

    Also looking forward to WSB’s story with Alki Crab & Fish. I’d like to know if we can have a chance at one last fish & chips.

    P.S. Hooray that Greg & Co. are staying. Wouldn’t be the same here without them.

    Comment by Joplin — 6:02 pm February 28, 2012 #

  6. Can’t wait…love their attitude and their perspective on the community…and, of course, the food! Please do a “Hawaiian Fish and Chips”:)

    Comment by onceachef — 6:14 pm February 28, 2012 #

  7. Shave Ice! YES! Bring on the SHAVE ICE!!!

    Comment by W Sea Neighbor — 6:32 pm February 28, 2012 #

  8. I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT! I CAN’T WAIT!

    Comment by Dizzle — 6:42 pm February 28, 2012 #

  9. Yay!

    Comment by Hollyplace — 7:48 pm February 28, 2012 #

  10. YAY – so excited! Especially for happy hours this summer!! Love from ZippyDogs – WOOF!

    Comment by Elise — 7:57 pm February 28, 2012 #

  11. How bout Marination Destination for the name?

    Comment by clark5080 — 8:02 pm February 28, 2012 #

  12. YAY!!!!!!!! Can’t WAIT!!!!! :)

    Comment by Jtk — 8:23 pm February 28, 2012 #

  13. love. that kalbi beef

    Comment by gypsyhippie — 8:37 pm February 28, 2012 #

  14. This is great!!

    I’ve not been able to go to the Saturday site because of schedule.
    If they are in W.Seattle everyday, I’ll definitely pop by a couple times a week!

    Comment by Ron — 8:38 pm February 28, 2012 #

  15. This sounds great. And I’m excited about the remodel–all the times I went to AC&F, I never realized that Alki Kayak Tours was there! More visibility for them should be great.

    Comment by datamuse — 8:40 pm February 28, 2012 #

  16. what ‘retail section’ is the article referring to?

    “instead of the current retail section”

    the retail section I remember (t-shirts, postcards, souvenirs) was converted to a bar a while ago. unless there is another retail section I don’t know about (besides alki kayak).

    july won’t come soon enough. can’t wait for marination. glad they are including fish and chips

    Comment by sam-c — 8:47 pm February 28, 2012 #

  17. So excited. Change is so good

    Comment by Thd — 9:00 pm February 28, 2012 #

  18. That would be my error, then. We go to Seacrest frequently but usually on a mission (take a picture of the Water Taxi, cover a situation like the diver search a week and a half ago) and I guess I haven’t been inside that door in longer than I thought – have walked by and not noticed the difference (I knew they had a bar but thought it was on the other side). – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:16 pm February 28, 2012 #

  19. I am so looking forward to visiting Marination, savoring an Aloha slider, Kalbi tacos and a cocktail – with a view, amongst some of the nicest restaurant folks our city knows. How lucky are we to have landed these fine folks in our neighborhood?!
    I applaud Kamala and Roz for the classy way they handled the ‘uproar’ over the Seacrest announcement, and know that anyone who samples their fresh, tasty food and experiences their customer service will soon be big fans of Marination.

    Comment by GreenGirl — 9:30 pm February 28, 2012 #

  20. Welcome, welcome, a thousand times welcome!!!

    Comment by Hungry — 9:44 pm February 28, 2012 #

  21. Woot! Woot! I’m already planning many summer walks along Alki, spam slider in tow! I have out of towers coming in Aug, so hope the opening date doesn’t slide. Can’t wait!

    Comment by Jennifer — 9:49 pm February 28, 2012 #

  22. When I stopped in Alki Fish & Crab this week, they had a sign that said they were moving to the Admiral Pub. Can you provide any details on that? Thanks!

    Comment by Franchesca — 10:14 pm February 28, 2012 #

  23. Franchesca – Alki Crab/Fish is owned by the owner of Admiral Pub, Eric Galanti, so that would make sense. I met him at the rally organized by Alki Crab/Fish supporters in December ( http://westseattleblog.com/2011/12/we-heart-alki-crab-and-fish-supporters-rally-near-seacrest ). I was hoping to include info on his future plans in this story, and assigned someone to try tracking him down today, but she didn’t hear back by day’s end and I needed to get the story published … hopefully a followup. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 10:30 pm February 28, 2012 #

  24. Nothing will compare to Alki Crab and Fish. Being a customer since moving here 10 years ago, nothing felt more at home, and welcoming, and comfortable than AC&F. (not to mention delicious). Theres a reason why theyve been around for so so long. Such a sad, disappointing closure of a place that should have never lost the location and place we, and the amazing employees called home.

    Comment by Jena — 10:34 pm February 28, 2012 #

  25. Shave ice is going to be a big hit this summer!

    Comment by c — 11:16 pm February 28, 2012 #

  26. I agree that it is sad to see AC&F go, they truly had the best fish and chips on Alki. However, I also love Marination, I am happy to see such a successful and well respected business taking over. Alas, I will miss the deliciousness that is Spam sliders having just relocated to Arizona. Guess that gives a good reason to return. Best of luck!!!

    Comment by EMT — 6:31 am February 29, 2012 #

  27. Leave the TV OUT!!and the outdoor speakers. There are plenty of places in WS to see/hear the game noise! This place is an oasis unto itself. The sights and sounds and smells of the area are there to be savored not tainted with Mariners, Storm, Seahawks noise. We for one will not visit the place with the extra noise. I CAN’T “imagine it clear as day – a sunny day – sunny summer day at that – walking along Alki with shave ice from Marination.” and intoxicated sports fans hooting and hollering louder than the ferry horn and the sea otter on the beach. Sorry very opinionated and would miss the quiet oasis it is now.

    Comment by denden — 7:27 am February 29, 2012 #

  28. It’s curious to see all the haters have disappeared. Where did they all go? It wasn’t long ago that this website was filled with naysayers and the like bashing Marination and how they fairly won the bidding process.

    Comment by MFCEO — 7:56 am February 29, 2012 #

  29. I’m so looking forward to their opening! Needed earlier hours (breakfast).

    Comment by Bringit — 9:30 am February 29, 2012 #

  30. I’m excited to have a little bit of Hawaii on the waterfront in West Seattle. And I love the intentions of the owners – feels like aloha to me.

    Comment by Heidi — 10:05 am February 29, 2012 #

  31. I agree. LEAVE THE TV OUT. I don’t eat where there’s a TV.

    Comment by Christopher — 10:38 am February 29, 2012 #

  32. The perfect day, a bike ride to Marination! SHAVE ICE???? So excited!

    Comment by Mark — 11:24 am February 29, 2012 #

  33. I am so excited! Can’t wait!

    Comment by Kelli — 11:24 am February 29, 2012 #

  34. fish tacos would be most welcome. :)

    Comment by April — 11:47 am February 29, 2012 #

  35. Get plenty local folks from Hawaii living on Alki and looking forward to some ono grinds including real shave ice (like in Hawaii not dakine snow cone kine). So best of luck setting up and really excited over your plate lunches when you open!

    Comment by Amrakx — 1:32 pm February 29, 2012 #

  36. If all of you here who love the change, go in twice a week to eat. They should be able to pay their bills. But if you don’t go, don’t be surprised after when they couldn’t stay in operation because no one was coming in. Ok?

    Comment by Jiggers — 1:36 pm February 29, 2012 #

  37. Marination is a class act all around, and some of the best food in Seattle, with the promise of breakfast (Portuguese sausage and rice, with eggs? Malasadas (dare I dream??) and shave ice?

    The work can’t be finished soon enough. Welcome!

    Comment by Paul — 2:13 pm February 29, 2012 #

  38. MF CEO

    i must be one of what you would call “the haters” because in this environment god knows that anyone who voices a dissenting opinion to the one held by “you” is a hater…
    .
    i still think it is wrong that the city doesn’t account more for infrastructure investment in it’s bidding process for vendors…
    .
    what it says to the vendor is that investing in city venues is a very bad idea in the back half of a contract… and that may be why we have so many terribly outdated city venues…
    .
    that said.. i am glad to see marination mobile going about this the smart way with up front investments…
    .
    and i am looking forward to the food..
    .
    unfortunately.. as one of the city’s less mobile citizens.. their year round popularity and limited parking is likely to mean that i may never get the opportunity to sample their food:(
    .
    i shall miss slipping into my favorite view off season

    Comment by JoB — 3:09 pm February 29, 2012 #

  39. YaaaaaaaaaaaY! Hawaiian style shave ice with azuki beans and vanilla ice cream!!!! I was wishaing I could open up a shave ice stand because I miss it so much. I can’t wait for these gals!

    Comment by Steph in WS — 3:13 pm February 29, 2012 #

  40. Yes for tv!! It would be fun to hang and watch games there!!

    Comment by E — 3:56 pm February 29, 2012 #

  41. As all of us life long or longer residents of West Seattle can surely attest, we deeply and passionately loved Alki Crab etc but it was a better idea for a food consumption depot than it was in practice. I remember a wilted cesar salad that made me quit the place except for the occasional. Bud lite and deep fried battered thingie du jour. It galls me no end that it’s demise was not initiated by a non binding citizen’s referendum regardless of my bitter betrayal by the afore mentioned flaccid lifeless salad it was a soveriegn nation unto itself was it not? If you pricked it did it not bleed ageless fry grease? if a corporation is a person is not a Crab shack at ferry landing not at least some kind of elf or troll? I ask you West Seattle wither your soul and where shall my coyotes eat? Oh yeah Marination Station has excellent food.

    Comment by cranky westie — 4:52 pm February 29, 2012 #

  42. I. Love. crankie westie.

    Comment by john — 12:08 am March 1, 2012 #

  43. I’m from Hawaii and hate Azuki Beans. Are they using Malolo syrup for their shave ice? if they aren’t, there is no substitute for Malolo’s.

    Comment by Jiggers — 11:26 am March 1, 2012 #

  44. Welcome Marination! Sounds like they will be an awesome part of Alki ! Can’t wait to try the new beach cuisine!

    Comment by Noelle — 1:52 am March 4, 2012 #

  45. JoB: I don’t think they meant that anyone who was sad about Alki Fish and Chips losing out, or who questions the way the city makes these decisions, when they mentioned “haters “. I think they meant people who were very disparaging of the Marination people without ever having eaten there.

    Comment by west Seattle since 1979 — 6:18 pm March 5, 2012 #

  46. RIP Seacrest Boathouse. You were the last boathouse in Seattle. The passing of an era. You are now a restaurant. I’m sure this is a precident for future bidding on other Park facilitates. Less emphasis on recreation and more emphasis on revenue.

    Comment by Smat — 6:43 pm March 10, 2012 #

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