The Lakebay Marina is once again becoming a destination location and owners Mark and Cindy Scott have plans to honor its historic past as they slowly renovate the buildings.
They purchased the property in 2012, opened for business in April 2013, and have welcomed Key Peninsula residents as well as boaters, who have begun arriving in large numbers during the summer.
The pier was initially built to accommodate the Mosquito Fleet — steamboats amassed by Conrad Lorenz and his sons to ship lumber from the Key Peninsula.
In 1928, the property became home to the Western Washington Cooperative Egg and Poultry Association. The co-op had feed for animals, as well as tractor and other equipment, and stored dairy products — mostly eggs — headed to Tacoma. In the 1950s, as roads improved, the last of the Mosquito Fleet retired, and the co-op moved from Lakebay.
At that time the location was transformed to a boating destination. Docks were built, a large dance floor was added to the building, and yachts began to motor to visit.
Small cabins were built on shore and it became the Lakebay Marina and Resort. The Hostetler family purchased and ran the business starting in the late 1960s.
When Mr. Hostetler died, his eight children continued to operate the marina, but they all had busy lives and competing priorities — Mark Scott was in contact with them for eight years before they all agreed to sell to him. He remembers coming to the café as a child and wanted to see the place come back to its unique presence on Puget Sound.
The new owners have been slowly restoring the property, learning the restaurant trade and scheduling wine and beer tastings featuring local wineries and breweries. They have also hosted a movie premier and musical events. And they have established an annual tradition: Every Memorial Day Weekend, they host a wine tasting from the Mosquito Fleet Winery and free clams.
“I know the marina business. Running a restaurant involved a steep learning curve,” Scott said.
The owner of Jimmy D’s in Poulsbo initially helped him open the restaurant and they are now running it on their own. His top priority: a top-quality burger — ground chuck and a toasted buttered bun.
His eyes light up as he describes the local tomatoes from My Mother’s Garden. They also serve fish and chips. As they succeed in offering consistent quality with these offerings, they plan to expand the menu.
Scott says the marina is full and working well. He hopes to build and install a pump-out barge. This is a program coordinated with the Army Corps of Engineers and state parks, offering a service to boats to encourage them to pump out their “black water” at the barge for disposal rather than dumping it into the Sound.
The Scotts have refurbished a garage and they will soon replace the roof and windows and repair the siding on the parsonage house. They plan to move into the house within a year or so, once their son graduates from high school on Bainbridge Island.
The house was built in about 1920 by Dolly Caspary, the Lakebay postmaster. In the early 1930s, Dr. Johnson, an osteopath who delivered several local babies, lived there. It later served as the parsonage for the Lakebay Community Church.
The three small cabins on the property have been left standing so that when they are replaced, the permitting process will be simpler. There is one rental cabin now available and the Scotts hope to improve the camping and RV sites.
The restoration and maintenance are all costly, though Scott emphasizes that the marina and resort is a very sustainable business. It is maintenance of the infrastructure such as the pilings that is especially expensive.
He hopes to get recognition as a historic site, either at the county or at a national level. This would assure that when he and his wife are no longer owners, the establishment would continue to play a central role in the community. And it might also help provide funding sources for preservation and restoration.
The Scotts invite customers to visit. Summers are very busy, but there is plenty of room at the counter for a great burger and fries this winter.
Winter hours are 5-9 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. For information about events, rentals and services provided, visit lakebaymarina.com.