MOCLIPS — As soon as the plate of bacon was served, all the fond memories came rushing back for longtime Ocean Crest customer Stephanie Allestad, better known as “the Chocolate Lady” of Pacific Beach.
“I have been counting the days for this. It’s been a long journey,” said Allestad as the Ocean Crest Resort in Moclips reopened its rebuilt ocean view restaurant on Friday, starting with breakfast at 9 a.m.
The restaurant, which was demolished in a fire three years ago, passed inspections on Wednesday and reopened on the very same footprint as the old facility with a new network of supports, modern kitchen facilities and utilities, along with a new deck, bar and interior design.
The first dinners were served Friday evening, with reservations accepted starting Friday morning, said Sara Owen of the family that runs the resort. The dinner crowd included the Roloff family that has created the Seabrook development up the road and Rob Paylor, the chef and owner of Mill 109 restaurant.
“We weren’t saying anything until we passed both of our last inspections and had our permits,” Owen said of the surprise grand reopening. The multimillion-dollar project includes cedar woodwork, with the wood milled from trees off the Ocean Crest property, Elton Bennett artwork and an interior design intended to blend in with the view of the beach and surrounding forest.
The menu includes many of the old favorites from the fine-dining facility that served patrons for generations, along with many new ones brought by new chef Coty MacDonald, formerly of the Shilo Inn. It also has a central showcase for the highly awarded Ocean Crest wine collection, ranked among the top wine lists in the Northwest from 2004-2011.
The Curtright family has owned and operated Ocean Crest for more than five decades and several generations, and the rebuilt facility also includes some of the artifacts saved from the fire, such as a yellow cedar Indian canoe paddle and native talking stick.
The resort received approval from Grays Harbor County in 2013 to build on the same footprint, but the base is far different, sitting on 32 steel pilings and girders with new piping everywhere for the plumbing and heating system. The new design by Alan Gozart and Harbor Architects of Aberdeen upholds much of the character of the old cedar building, which once served as the home of “Grandma” Barbara Topete, the resort’s founder, who lived and raised her family there when she bought it in 1953.
Jess Owen is her grandson, and as the assistant general manager at Ocean Crest, he was beaming with delight Friday while supervising all the details, right down to the uniform needs of the staff.
“We wanted to be open two years ago,” he said. “This is what we do.”
“This is the chaos we know: Food, service hospitality,” added his wife Sara. “Construction, permits, banks, insurance, I don’t know that stuff and I don’t ever want to do that again.”
The restaurant will have a full staff of 18 people, about half of them having worked there before the 2011 fire. It will be open for breakfast from 8-11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., a “light bites” menus from 3-5 p.m., and dinner from 5-9.
Allestad said she first heard about the reopening when it was posted Wednesday on Facebook. On Friday, she was one of the first breakfast customers, with Jeff Muhlhauser, a firefighter from the Quinault Nation.
“When the words came out on Facebook, I was practically levitating,” she said. “It was such an excitement, and it’s such a family atmosphere here, it’s like having a family back together again.”
Ocean Crest is located at 4651 State Route 109, (360) 276-4465.