Businesses near shell of Oyster House are concerned

rboone@theolympian.comJuly 22, 2013 

Visitors to Olympia’s Percival Landing and the Lakefair event on Sunday pass the remains of the Oyster House, which was gutted by a fire early Friday morning.

STEVE BLOOM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Business owners and organizational leaders Sunday were still sizing up the impact the Oyster House fire would have on the immediate area. Some said they were already feeling a loss to business, while others said Percival Landing will continue to draw visitors and tourists.

The Oyster House on Fourth Avenue burned late last week, the fire reducing a once-vibrant destination spot into a building that now has boarded-up windows and doors, and a safety fence surrounding it.

Sales at Urban Kayak, a kayak-rental business that operates next to the Oyster House, plunged 40 percent immediately after the fire, but have rebounded since then thanks to those who visited Lakefair, owner Tom Glaspie said.

As a result of the slowdown, though, he is prepared to rev up the marketing machine for his business. He’s considering a customer-appreciation day by giving away free kayak rentals, food and drinks, he said.

Childhood’s End gallery co-owner Richenda Richardson also expects some potential impact to her business, which operates near the restaurant.

Customers used to dine at the restaurant and then look over at the gallery, curious about the painting on the outside of the building.

That would lead some to visit the gallery, Richardson said.

The painting is a reproduction of the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s “Great Wave at Kanagawa.”

Tourists also would visit the gallery, sometimes looking for a recommendation about where to eat, and the Oyster House would be among their recommendations, she said.

Richardson said she was glad to hear the owner plans to rebuild.

“The community is going to be there the minute they open the door,” she said.

Although the Oyster House is closed, Percival Landing will continue to draw visitors, Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau executive director George Sharp said.

Twenty-one thousand people visit his office on the Capitol Campus every year, he said, and his staff often point people in that direction.

Many ask about the Oyster House, but there’s also Budd Bay Cafe, Anthony’s and the Dockside Bistro, Sharp said.

Meanwhile, musician Craig Foster was playing guitar for the Percival Landing crowd on Sunday.

He usually sets up closer to the Farmers Market and the Port Plaza, but had moved closer to Fourth Avenue because of Lakefair.

Foster wasn’t sure what effect a burned-out Oyster House would have on the area, but he did know what song to play: Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com theolympian.com/bizblog

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