By Britta Folden
On June 20, 2011 a fire devastated the community that supported the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips, Washington. A memorable event for many, the fire burned on for three days, as recommended by the fire department in order to preserve the hillside. Preservation of the area was key, because even in the midst of a disaster, the crew of the Ocean Crest had plans to rebuild.
Jess Owens is now the Assistant General Manager, just one of the family management team that now owns and operates the business. The building that once was the Ocean Crest Resort Restaurant had begun as the home of Jess’ grandparents. They assumed ownership of the resort in 1953 and lived on site. In 1963 they turned part of their home into a restaurant and expanded with a building addition in 1964. Over the years, the resort expanded and now includes 45 rooms, a pool, gym and spa.
Seventeen years ago, Jess moved back in order to work at the Ocean Crest Resort among his family. At some point, he began focusing more on the restaurant and eventually took over as the executive chef during a particularly important dinner when they were suddenly left without a chef to prepare the meal. He called it the “great chef shuffle of the North Beach,” as he explained the inconsistency of personnel in the area. He stepped up in order to fill a need, and things clicked. He enjoys taking risks in the kitchen and challenging others to do the things that they didn’t believe could be done.
After three years of rebuilding, the restaurant is nearing completion. The design will be reflective of the natural surroundings and reminiscent of the original building the restaurant resided within. The view is better than ever in the dining room, plus they have added a lounge with a section of outdoor dining on a deck overlooking the 150 stairs down to the beach. The entire space will be filled with fine art pieces and a collection of wines with a particular bent toward Pacific Northwest wines. The building is built high up in the trees, but is extremely safe on the 32 steel pilings running deep into the ground.
The improvements to the restaurant are very exciting. Jess explained how nice it has been to build from the ground up and design a more functional space, but he is still sentimental for what once was. “We’ll never get grandma’s house back,” he added. “ But, we’ll be able to serve our guests much better now.”
The journey has been a challenge, but Jess’s positive attitude has kept the project moving through this tough time. The community also rose up to support those affected by the loss, including the staff of the restaurant. Many businesses in the area provided jobs as they could with the understanding that many of the staff will return to the Ocean Crest upon its reopening. The feelings of gratitude showed on Jess’s face as he spoke about the community support.
The new restaurant will offer meals that can be defined as Northwest cuisine with world flair and, of course, grandma’s famous clam chowder. Jess is excited to see old friends return to a place where many hold such fond memories. The restaurant will likely be open in late spring, bigger and better than ever. “Never limit yourself,” Jess said to encourage all of those, including himself, to do what seems impossible.
Photo credits: Eric Jacskon
4651 Washington 109
Moclips, WA 98562