Seacrest Boathouse changes? City reportedly picks new operator

(Seacrest Boathouse file photo, by Christopher Boffoli)
Our partners at the Seattle Times report today that the city Parks Department has chosen a new (not-yet-identified) operator for Seacrest Boathouse. The owners of Alki Crab and Fish have been the official operators for a decade, the length of the city contract that expired last June; this past fall, the city put out a Request for Proposals for operating the food/drink concession at the boathouse/pier (see the RFP here, including the city’s terms and conditions).

A document on the city website includes Q/A with the city in response to an unidentified “interested proposer” (see it here). As that document notes, Alki Kayak Tours is a subcontractor to the restaurant operator. We asked its proprietor Greg Whittaker, who has offered tours as well as rentals (not just kayaks, but skates, bikes, and standup paddleboards, among other things) for 7 years, how this would affect his operation. His reply: “I am not really sure how this all will turn out. We have worked really hard to develop this business and hope to negotiate a solution with Seattle Parks and Recreation.” Alki Crab and Fish’s owner told the Times he plans to send the city a protest letter.

The reported plan to turn Seacrest over to a new operator requires City Council approval, with a vote expected early next year. We’ll be following up with Parks tomorrow.

44 Replies to "Seacrest Boathouse changes? City reportedly picks new operator"

  • Kara December 4, 2011 (10:56 am)

    What does this mean for the restaurant…they are my favorite fish and chip place :(

  • Leslie Lee December 4, 2011 (11:11 am)

    This is the worst news on a sunday! I LOVE Alki Crab & Fish!!! They make the best fish & chips! Friendliest service & a terrific toursit attraction! They have done a lot to improve the area & the business. Can we as West Seattleiette’s start a petition or something! SAVE ALKI CRAB & FISH!!!

  • bestbets December 4, 2011 (11:17 am)

    What the heck?! I really like the people of both Alki Crab and Fish, and Alki Kayak Tours and have been a customer of both. Will be interested to hear the details of how this came about.

  • Seattlegal December 4, 2011 (11:48 am)

    WHAT?? Alki crab & fish is a great spot with amazing food and an amazing staff.I bring all of my friends from out of town to eat there and have taken 2 different kayak trips with Alki kayak tours. This is another case of the city ruining what appears to be a great business and long time family run operation. Put my name on a petition to keep Alki crab & fish! Why would the city gamble with a new restaurant??? This is just another move that shows how the city of Seattle hinders small business growth and development. The Better part of a decade and someone looses their livlyhood as well as that of staff. I hope Mr. Gallanty is putting together a strong legal team. I SUPPORT ALKI CRAB AND ALKI KAYAK TOURS.

  • Bobndeb December 4, 2011 (12:44 pm)

    I support ALki crab and the boat rentals. I see the owners there every time I am there. 2-3 times per week for coffee or lunch. Yvonne has to be the sweetest person! She is so kind to everyone even when the place has a line out the door. Seattle parks is making a BIG mistake and will be getting a letter from me immediately.

  • Restauarant guy December 4, 2011 (12:53 pm)

    I just learned of this place after I met Erik the day he picked me up when I ran out of gas underneath the West Seattle bridge. He took me to the gas station and back and wouldn’t let me pay him he told me of his restaurant on Alki which I had just moved to so I thought I would give him my business. Well it quickly became my favorite spot on the beach. I spent many evenings out on the outdoor patio deck with my wife enjoying a glass of wine and fish and chips. This would be a tragedy to see this place leave. It is a well run business that that has a great staff. I implore the parks department to reconsider this decision. Join me in writing the Seattle Parks to make them aware of this enormous oversight.

  • old timer December 4, 2011 (12:59 pm)

    What’s with the “not-yet-identified’?
    Who is the newly appointed?
    Where’s the transparency?
    Where’s the public process?
    We need to see what connections may exist between the usurper and whomever:
    Parks Department person/s responsible for charge of assignment and/or family/relatives; campaign contributions, etc.
    Does not seem right that pioneers in this former wasteland of an area are to be kicked out once their hard work is finally beginning to show a bit of a return.
    They have made a nice spot for us all and It does not seem right that they are summarily booted to the curb.
    Sorry for the cynical tone, but now a days, everywhere you turn, someone is working secretly/ behind the curtain to screw someone else, usually at the public’s expense.

  • alki_2008 December 4, 2011 (1:10 pm)

    Did the current opearators of Alki Crab & Fish submit a proposal (for the RFP)? If not, then they need to get on that. If the contract expires after 10 years, then they need to DO SOMETHING to renew the contract. Submit a proposal and if the city doesn’t accept it, THEN there’s something citizens can protest.
    As much as I’d like to see Alki Crab & Fish stay…if they aren’t following typical business practice to renew a contract, then that’s their own fault.

    • WSB December 4, 2011 (1:24 pm)

      As I understand it, yes, they did.
      Alki2008, there was a public process in terms of soliciting applicants and suggesting criteria – it’s on the city website, etc. (see the links in our story here). If the winning bidder and/or their bid is out there online somewhere, I haven’t found it yet, but that’s question #1 I will be taking to Parks in following up on this tomorrow. – TR

  • Bad Food December 4, 2011 (1:30 pm)

    Good food you must be kidding! This is worse than mc donalds…. come on, the city must create revenue…not support lackluster small business.

  • DCO December 4, 2011 (1:32 pm)

    Just another example as to how working with the city can be so difficult! This is just wrong…

  • sam-c December 4, 2011 (2:06 pm)

    I do enjoy the fish and chips here, and would be really sad to see them go. (we do enjoy fish and chips elsewhere but) Alki Crab and fish takes debit cards, serves beer, has such a great view, and is right near the water taxi. our family would really miss them. and alki kayak!! where would they go? we’ve enjoyed their rentals a couple time this past year. that would be really sad if they had to move too.

  • WMF December 4, 2011 (3:00 pm)

    Enjoy the new Ivars they’ll be putting in…

  • Near Alki December 4, 2011 (3:06 pm)

    One VERY early Sunday morning I wondered in (thinking they were open). REALLY NEEDED a latte. The owner was there doing some machine maintenance and told me they weren’t open but he’d be happy to make me a latte…which he did with a smile. The city is run by a bunch of bumble heads…really, we all know that.

  • Westside J. December 4, 2011 (3:17 pm)

    Wow, so the city can basically toss them out of there, essentially stealing peoples businesses?? Am I understanding this correctly?

    • WSB December 4, 2011 (3:33 pm)

      The city owns the boathouse, pier, etc. The restaurant is a “concessionaire,” technically. They had a contract with the city for a certain period. It expired. The city put out a request for proposals, as government entities do in a wide variety of dealings (if you look at the RFP page linked in the story, there are other such RFPs out). It received proposals and made a decision – like putting a construction job out to bid. However, it’s not final until the council signs off. An interesting point is that the city was taking a five percent cut, compared to the 10 percent sought in the RFP – with the previous lower figure cited as justified because the current concessionaire had made improvements (for example, they recently set up a bar/patio area on the west side of the boathouse, and the Q/A form linked in the story mentions other improvements).

  • mike December 4, 2011 (3:51 pm)

    The city government is showing who they care for with this move. Obviously that don’t want small biz around and I’d assume a Mega millionaire developer will get the rights to do something there. Vote these politicians out of office.

  • chas redmond December 4, 2011 (5:36 pm)

    So there are two places where concerns can be made: The Parks board, which meets monthly at Denny Park; and the City Council, where Sally Bagshaw is the chair of the Parks & Rec committee. Both places have elected or appointed local citizens who do care about these issues. Make your voice heard to these folks – in addition to making comments on the WSBlog….

  • visitor December 4, 2011 (6:15 pm)

    Looks like more of Bagshaw’s push to squeeze revenues out of public properties, existing conditions be damned. This is (another) travesty, along with the community centers being readied for private operators.

  • Keith December 4, 2011 (6:52 pm)

    What a surprising decision, and a sad turn of events for Alki Fish after they’ve put in so many improvements and developed a customer base. I do like their food, and it’s a great place to enjoy the view without spending and arm & a leg (although I wouldn’t necessarily describe their prices as “cheap”).

    I’ll be really curious to learn more about the proposal they went with, and why. This last part of the linked Q&A between Parks and the winning business was interesting:

    “QUESTION: Will any preference be given to businesses that are minority owned or women-owned
    (or both as is our case)?
    ANSWER: No preference, but we encourage such businesses to submit proposals. ”

    My initial reaction to this news was also that Parks probably sold out to a bigger chain, but I think it’s safe to say from the information above that it ain’t Ivars! Maybe… Ezell’s by the Sea??

  • ten December 4, 2011 (7:42 pm)

    We heard that the new business will be a Korean restaurant – completely out of character for this location. It is a very sad, sad thing if Alki Crab is forced out. The owner and staff are fantastic and it is a great place to hang out, have a latte and some chowder in a relaxed atmosphere with no pretense. The fishermen and locals love this place.

  • lady December 4, 2011 (7:57 pm)

    I don’t approve of this. If a small business is successful and fills a need/want of the community, the only reason not to give them preference for renewal of the lease is revenue. It is too bad for all of us. The city does have a choice here. Let’s hope it makes the right one. For that matter, I’d like to see a formal response from the a representative from the committee making the final decision, detailing EXACTLY which businesses have also submitted proposals. We should be able to voice our opinion on what type of establishments is granted rights to a piece of OUR publicly owned property, with the killer view and steady flow of customers. WE, who take the water taxi, WE, who rent the kayaks, WE who pay the high west seattle property taxes and WE who support the parks initiatives. Come on. WE have just as much to gain and/or lose by a wise decision here. Spell it out, before it is too late. Educate your puplic so we are informed and know EXACTLY what is going on before a final decision is made. Really.

  • JoB December 4, 2011 (8:11 pm)

    well.. that will teach people who have a concession with the city of Seattle to make improvements…
    won’t it.

  • Jamie December 4, 2011 (9:08 pm)

    This is so upsetting and sad. Alki Crab and Fish is the best fish and chip house in Seattle. The food is great and service is amazing. They have done so much work to make it a great neighborhood restaurant and bar and also a great tourist destination. I would love to help protest this decision by the city in any way I can. Please let us know what we can do to save this West Seattle icon!!!

  • Steve December 4, 2011 (9:13 pm)

    I support Alki Crab and Fish

  • Dano December 4, 2011 (9:24 pm)

    A KOREAN restaurant?!……. Are you KIDDING me?! This needs to be a northwest seafood place, hands down. When people come up the ramp from the water taxi, the experience should be a pure, Puget Sound “Welcome”… Kayaks and fish & chips fits….This is just ridiculous…. I fear kimchee and Segways…. I’m not kidding.

  • Vandal December 4, 2011 (9:35 pm)

    This is just another great example of cities not supporting the small business owner. As an owner myself I understand how hard it is to work with city goverment. I also understand they were or are just “concessionaires”, but why wouldn’t the city take into account the longevity of the business as well as the improvements they have made? If the people of West Seattle didn’t embrace Alki Crab and Fish then it would not be profitable enough for them to stay on for a decade or have interest in staying on longer. There should be special consideration given to the existing business who has built up the clientele when contracts are being put up for renewal. Do the right thing. Keep the place the people want. Keep Alki Crab and Fish

  • Karen December 4, 2011 (9:39 pm)

    The view, amazing…the food, I’m sorry to say has gone down with each visit so noticeably that we no longer go back. I would welcome a quality fish and chip and chowder spot that dignifies the venue.

  • Westsidegeezer December 4, 2011 (10:30 pm)

    Even if you dont like the food, which I do very much there is still a problem with city taking a successful family run business and rolling the dice that a new concessionaire can outperform. The sucess rate in the restaurant business is very low and building a new business in this economy is an extremly hard proposition. This is a tragedy for west Seattle and the owners and employees of Alki Crab & Fish and Alki Kayak Tours. The city doesn’t think or operate like a business and we are letting them evaluate what “may” be a success, instead of going with a proven track record of over 9 years and fiscal stability. Why would anyone want to do business with the city if Seattle or the parks department??

  • DiverLaura December 4, 2011 (11:20 pm)

    we need a petition! we need everyones support! the deadline for the owner to submit their letter of protest requesting review is 4pm Monday afternoon…

    divers were able to instal an AED last year because of the willingness to help the community by the owners of the establishment.

    this is a travesty!

  • Dano Beal December 4, 2011 (11:32 pm)

    Well, I can assure you that if they go with a Korean restaurant, I will not frequent it….. And wouldn’t take visitors there either….. I like Korean food, but it wouldn’t be something I would want to “show off” like I enjoy doing now…. Perhaps that will be the only thing that would make a difference to the council….. Tell em you’ll boycott whatever new establishments go in there……

  • DiverLaura December 4, 2011 (11:52 pm)

    ok, i made this petition…

    there are a handful of online petition sites, and i couldn’t find any real data pointing one over another…. I hope this works, if anyone has a better option, i’m happy to do the keyboard work to get it up and running, but for now, hopefully this will do…

    if you see anything that needs editing or rewording, please email me and i’ll see if i can fix it.

  • TDe December 5, 2011 (5:58 am)

    Whew… the losses sustained by the current business model down there have been fairly large. In the RFP it looks like they’ve lost around $100 – $200K per year since 2008. I wonder how they’ve been able to sustain their business at all with those kinds of losses. Must be a tough market down there.

  • Tina Carns December 5, 2011 (9:20 am)


  • pjmanley December 5, 2011 (9:23 am)

    I envision the current owner procuring an Airstream, or two, parked along the beach, earning many multiples of their current income while the next series of tenants fail, leading to money-losing litigation for the city and a blight at the pier. Pretty standard MO for greedy know-nothings at City Hall.

  • James Flodin December 5, 2011 (10:11 am)

    STOP this action! My students and I visit the Alki Crab and Fish House everytime we dive at Alki, which we have been doing for over 5 years. Being from Coeur D’ Alene, ID. we have come to rely of a close place to warm up and eat great food after diving. Please keep this historical landmark alive!

  • Caleb Conley December 5, 2011 (11:11 am)

    This is terrible news! We moved to West Seattle from out of state in June, and Alki Fish & Crab quickly became one of our favorite places anywhere in the city. Great view, great service, great food. We take all of our friends and family here when they are visiting. Please renew their lease!

  • HelperMonkey December 5, 2011 (11:52 am)

    I signed the petition. coincidentally enough, we went to the Dive Bar last night for the first time. it’s a really great space. yes, the bathroom situation leaves a little to be desired, but the service, drinks and view were fabulous!

  • baitboy December 5, 2011 (12:09 pm)

    I remember working there in the early 90’s as a baitboy, scooping up giant nets of herring and getting boats ready for the days catch. The dock was packed at 5am, fishermen getting a bite, some coffee, and a bucket of live bait. It was always fun chatting with the fishermen as I lowered the 12′ Lunds down the boat elevator. As I moved on to better things, it seemed the owners were as well. The boats started disappearing along with the fishermen. Never understood how the rentals couldn’t be profitable as there was always more demand than boats and the hourly rates were reasonable. They should bring the fishing boats back and the restaurant can serve the fresh catch.

  • Stephanie December 5, 2011 (12:28 pm)

    This is a local business that has great support in the community. They are friendly and create a great environment in this area. This will not be accepted without protest. You should most certainly re-consider and make it public why this is happening when I have heard the owners wanted to renew the lease. If this is public money, the process should be public as well.

    • WSB December 5, 2011 (12:43 pm)

      Finally have our followup going – starting with the successful proposer, per Parks:
      Will be adding more info over at least the next hour or so, continuing to develop… Tracy

  • John Sanders December 5, 2011 (12:42 pm)

    The folks that work these are great, helpful and friendly. They’ve recently renovated the old shopping are and turned it into a great bar AND the outside is an amazing patio for the summertime. Why change it if it works?

  • Paulie December 5, 2011 (1:38 pm)

    I hate Alki Crab and Fish. No crab. All fish is deep fried. Worst burgers ever. Rude waitstaff and bartender. Not up to par with the quality of the location.

    I will fully support Marination.

  • GreenGirl December 5, 2011 (1:55 pm)

    I have to say, I am very excited that one of my favorite small businesses, Marination Mobile, won the contract! I adore their tacos (Kalbi beef) and sliders (pork). West Seattleites are so lucky to have a brick and mortar location of their fresh, tasty food!

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