Everett’s waterfront makeover is “staycation” worthy.
By Ellen Hiatt
You know a location is doing something when it becomes the place to drop a knee and reveal the ring. Multiple proposals have received a giddy “Yes!” at the Port of Everett’s Marina, the waterfront outdoor cinema, and on the winter ice rink. The Port has become a destination for special moments, family staycations, holiday fun, first dates over coffee and anniversary moments over cocktails.
Decades in the making, the marina has undergone complete transformation from an industrial waterfront to a recreational destination. And it’s only a third of the way there.
Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of aged industrial development, shingle mills and lumber operations, the waterfront now boasts a restaurant with $800 shots of the finest Whiskey, frozen water fountains and an ice rink for winter fun, condominiums, coffee bars, a distillery, and more.
A long history of industrial contamination, job creation and industry decline can be told on Everett’s shores.
Today, a thriving maritime container port shares space with a Naval Station and a burgeoning restaurant scene, walking paths, and recreational boating.
The Port’s Public Affairs Manager Catherine Soper has been telling this story to writers and business owners for years. Today, the momentum is so great that more are paying attention to her message.
BUDDING RESTAURANT SCENE
Sound2Summit opened its second taproom at the Port’s Central Marina in 2022. It wasn’t long, she shared, before the owner told Soper “We are selling faster than we can brew it. I am glad I listened!”
The brewery is among five new restaurants there, including South Fork Baking Company, and Woods Coffee, who also provide some low key gathering spots for friends and family.
Elevating the game, visitors to the marina will find new experiences in Jang Yang Ng and Jin Ma’s two newest restaurants, opened within months of each other: Fisherman Jack’s and The Muse Whiskey and Coffee Whiskey and Coffee, a coffee shop and speakeasy-inspired Whiskey bar. The couple began their stateside restaurant career on Whidbey Island and then opened a second version of their China City restaurants in Mill Creek.
Attracted to the opportunities on Everett’s waterfront, they jumped at the chance to open two restaurants nearly simultaneously.
Fisherman Jack’s plays on the fishing pastime of its owner, and serves a menu replete with fish options in Cantonese flare. Look for Dim Sum to include lobster dumplings and shrimp and pork siu mai, or Szechuan sea bass, seaweed salad, and curry mussels, as well as Asian food from the land, like chow mein and General Ng’s. It’s also a great place to stop for a cocktail.
But if you’re looking for a new experience with the spirits, consider stopping in at The Muse Whiskey and Coffee. This restaurant’s concept was built around its location: the historic Weyerhaeuser building. The storied building has had many lives, and many locations. It’s been moved no fewer than three times – two of those by barge. Once a demonstration building for Weyerhaeuser’s complex ornamental millwork, the building was an office space for Weyerhaeuser workers.
Ma oversaw the building’s redevelopment, holding true to its historic character, including historical photos and storytelling. She kept the building’s individual offices, placing a long bar in the building center abutting the enormous steel safe. That safe was once the repository of company cash, and now holds something special of its own – wine and Whiskey.
At The Muse Whiskey and Coffee, bartenders create craft cocktails from an extensive whiskey collection. It includes Prohibition-era bottles, and some from the FX McCrory collection, which was in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest collection of whiskeys. More spirits are stored in the massive vault behind the bar, where Weyerhaeuser once kept its payroll in cash. It now holds lockers that customers rent to store their favorite bottles.
The Muse Whiskey and Coffee stands alone in the waterfront redevelopment’s timeline. Apart from the bustling Fisherman’s Harbor, the Millwright District is just now breaking ground. The roadway to it is under construction, and the ornate building stands amidst the changing landscape as a century-old testament to change.
The building was restored to maintain its historic glory, each wood-paneled room named for a Weyerhaeuser employee, the furniture chosen to complement the 1920s theme with jewel tones and cozy seating areas, reminding visitors of smokey cigars and speakeasy soirees. Small plates are served alongside tastings of superb whiskeys, provided with deft guidance of General Manager Joseph Mottola, who will likely gush alongside you about the subtleties of each heady pour.
By day, The Muse Whiskey and Coffee is a luxurious place to meet a friend for coffee and a pastry, take in the morning clouds moving over Hat Island and Jetty Landing, and wait for the kiteboarders to pop their sails into the air, one by one, to catch a breeze.
ALL ABOUT THE WATER
The Port has created a full service maritime environment. Freedom Boats, Bellingham Yachts and Waterline Boats, a yacht brokerage, all have services at the marina. The Craftsman District houses maritime service providers and a boat repair yard.
The marina just welcomed The Maritime Institute, which opened its first satellite in Washington State. It provides programs for mariners, existing and aspiring, training more than 10,000 people annually across the nation in U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy authorized courses. Look to the coming Everett location for Maritime Bootcamp, a four-week program to open a career pathway for new mariners.
The marina remains a place where recreational boaters enjoy the waterfront alongside longshoremen, fishermen and families just out for the day to enjoy the splash pad and dock walks.
With a housing, restaurant and retail scene coalescing on Everett’s waterfront, the Port continues to create an environment for year-round fun.
Building out for the past three years, the winter wonderland includes frozen fountains, twinkling lights, simulated waves stretching along the promenade and salmon hanging from light poles in Fisherman’s Harbor, drawing families for the day or the weekend.
The frozen fountain is in the shape of a tree – a 35-foot lighted sculpture created by Seattle-based Visionart, whose owner Alec Puskas is nicknamed Mr. Christmas for his over-the-top holiday decorations at the Space Needle, Tulalip Resort Casino and Paramount Theatre.
Winter lighting displays, growing year by year, give the illusion of waves, frozen in time, and leaping salmon.
The Pacific Ice Pop-up Ice Rink is in its third season this winter. This year, cozy up to waterfront fire pits, enjoy “Magical Mondays” when the children can interact with fan-favorite movie characters.
MORE TO COME
Fisherman’s Harbor is the most complete of the districts. Under development is a section near Hotel Indigo and Waterfront Place Apartments that will bring in Menchie’s @ the Marina, Anisoptera Spa and Rustic Cork Wine Bar, a “fast casual” restaurant with indoor dining and 2,800 square feet of patio.
Breaking ground on the Millwright District is the opening salvo of Phase II of the Port’s redevelopment. Phase I included the onerous and expensive cleanup of historic industrial contamination, development of the Craftsman District and Fisherman’s Harbor. There are three phases in the 1.5 million square foot mixed-use development located on 65 acres. The development has been decades in the making, overcoming delays of the Great Recession and the pandemic.
The Port’s initiation of Millwright Loop Road marks the next phase, literally paving the way to the Millwright District, a 10-acre section that includes The Muse Whiskey and Coffee and Boxcar Park, and is expected to bring 300 residential units, 200,000 square feet of office space and 60,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.
“We have a proven track record,” said Soper. “Today, it’s less negotiations and recruitment. There is a lot of interest.”