Happy as Clams

By Eric Fetters, Herald Writer

MUKILTEO – Steve Anderson was nearly finished with work at Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing restaurant on Oct. 28, 2003, when the wind-whipped waves outside convinced him to stick around.

A half-hour later, a fierce wind was driving the high tide against the waterfront eatery. At first, Anderson and other employees tried to hold down the outside deck planks as the waves lifted them up. But staff and patrons soon evacuated the restaurant. Then, the wind and water combined to destroy it.

After recounting that ordeal, Anderson described Tuesday how he feels about the rebuilt restaurant, the result of 15 months of work and more than $2 million. “I’m floored. It’s been an amazing transformation,” said Anderson, now the restaurant’s executive chef. “I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.”

Inside, new windows and the outdoor deck provide the same views of Puget Sound and Mount Baker, but nearly everything else is changed. The bar has more seating and slightly more room than before, said bartender Eddie Perreira, who also witnessed the 2003 storm from the restaurant.

The new bar counter is granite. The old teak and mahogany bar was lost to the storm. A remnant of the teak bar now surrounds a hatch door that provides access below the building. In the main dining area, a new stone fireplace provides atmosphere and warmth. It also helps to separate the restaurant from a private banquet room that can seat up to 60 people. The kitchen, which was shifted south, also is slightly larger than before.

“I used to come here quite a bit and eat here in the summer,” Hopkins said. “When they asked me to do the painting, it was a lot of fun.” Within the painting, Hopkins hid Ivar’s motto, “Keep Clam,” numerous times. He hasn’t told anyone, he said, where they all are in the painting.

While the interior is what most people will see, even more work went into the basic foundation of the building. That is what helped turn the rebuilding project into a 15-month undertaking.

The storm pulled timber pilings and 350 cubic yards of sand from under the restaurant. Now, galvanized steel beams and cement have taken their place. While they were working on the building’s foundation, the first workers who arrived in the morning often found otters standing on the new sea wall and peering into the restaurant, said Bob Donegan, president of Ivar’s Inc.

Workers removed 120 creosote timber piles, installed 465 feet of steel I-beams and used 141,000 pounds of cement. They also installed five large lateral frames in the building to help it withstand future storms and earthquakes, said Dave Swanson of engineering firm Reid Middleton.