The Oyster House restaurant, an Olympia waterfront icon for nearly a century that had recently closed, potentially has new life under the direction of a veteran restaurant owner.
Patrick Knutson, who operates Budd Bay Cafe in Olympia and River’s Edge in Tumwater, said Wednesday that he has an agreement to buy the business near Percival Landing.
An agreement is in place, but nothing has been finalized, Knutson said. If the sale goes through, he plans to operate the business under the Oyster House name.
Budd Bay Cafe has occupied its spot overlooking Budd Inlet since August 1988. Knutson bought the restaurant 17 years ago, and now co-owns it with Pam Oates, who also co-owns River’s Edge.
A fire destroyed The Oyster House in 2013, and it struggled after it rebuilt and reopened in 2014. Those struggles became public after a number of former employees picketed the business, alleging it was home to a hostile and dysfunctional workplace.
The business has a long history. The Oyster House dates to the early 1920s and has had several owners over the years.
One of those owners was Tom Barrett, a veteran restaurant operator who had run several Dairy Queen businesses throughout the Northwest, including in Olympia. He bought the Oyster House property and business in 1996.
The business was closed at the time and was in need of a remodel, something he undertook then -- and then again after the 2013 fire.
“It’s a hard way to remodel, but I guess it had to be done,” he told The Olympian in 2014.
He and his wife, Leticia, ran the business together until he passed away in 2015.