Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Oyster House Restaurant Takes Shape

Above: Oyster House restaurant owners Leticia and Tom Barrett inspect the progress on the framing earlier this afternoon.
By Janine Unsoeld
Construction has begun on the rebuilding of the Oyster House restaurant in downtown Olympia. The framing for the walls was built in the back parking lot of the property on Sylvester Street near Percival Landing and put up yesterday morning with a crane in three hours. 
Today, Oyster House owners Tom and Leticia Barrett stopped by to check out the progress. They said they hope to open by mid July.
“It’s all still up in the air, and depends on the weather. God willing, everything will work out… there are a lot of people out of work,” said Leticia Barrett.
About 50 employees were put out of work when the restaurant burned down due to a suspected dryer fire in July 2013.
Leticia Barrett said they hope to rehire some of their previous employees, but many have moved on to other positions. Barrett said she is in conversation with the state Department of Labor, who will host a special hiring day for them about a month before opening.  
As the Barrett’s left the job site, Butch Livengood, a framer for Bailey Construction, who was busy doing his job, said, “We’ll get it done.”
Above: The Oyster House restaurant yesterday morning, shortly after the framing went up.
High Tides, Sea-Level Rise and Wiring Concerns
When asked about the electrical wiring along the Budd Inlet side of their property, which is often underwater depending on the tides, Leticia Barrett said they have all their permits and is confident everything is up to code with the city. 
Last September, Little Hollywood asked city staff about the integrity of the wiring around the Oyster House since the high tide of December 2012:
“….As you probably know, the New Jersey boardwalk businesses may have burned down a couple weeks ago because of waterlogged wiring after Sandy. This is being disputed, but Governor Christie is convinced. Is there a way to find out if electrical inspections were made of city/private property wiring after December's high tide?”
In a series of September to October 2013 emails from Little Hollywood to city staff, Paul Hanna, the city's fleet and facilities supervisor for the public works department, said that the city’s department does normal electrical preventative maintenance inspections on city buildings only. 
“We have not done any inspections specific to water intrusion, because our buildings were not affected by the high tide.  I’m not aware of any other inspection work that was done,” said Hanna.
David Hanna, associate director of the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation department, also said in an email that there was no inspection of the Percival Landing electrical system after the heavy rains.
In a conversation late this afternoon with Tom Hill, the city’s building official and code enforcement supervisor and permit and inspection manager, Hill said he'll have the city's electrical inspector take a look at the situation.
Above: As seen from Percival Landing looking toward the Oyster House and the state Capitol Building in the distance, this picture was taken February 28, 2014, at 4:40 p.m. when the high tide was about 14.4 feet near the Oyster House.
Above: A close up of the wiring. The wire is imprinted with “Above ground and Underground - Sunlight Resistant” Is the wiring sea water resistant? Picture taken February 28, 2014 at about a 14.4 foot tide.
Above: A lamp post and another electrical box up close. The paint on the lamp posts is in direct contact with Budd Inlet and looks corroded. Picture taken February 28, 2014 at a 14.4 foot tide.
Above: The Oyster House, seen here, with the wiring and its parking lot fully submerged by sea water on December 17, 2012 after the high tide.
Above: At another angle, the Oyster House's parking lot, lamp posts, and wiring to the restaurant is seen here fully submerged by sea water on December 17, 2012 after the high tide.
To read more about the Oyster House and see more December 2012 high tides pictures, go to and type keywords into the search button.
Sample articles include, “Witnesses to High Tide in Olympia” posted December 17, 2012 and “Olympia's Shoreline Master Plan and the Oyster House Restaurant: A Missed Opportunity for Budd Inlet Restoration?” posted September 20, 2013.