Business

New owners to take over Crab Shack

"A Whidbey Island tradition may live on despite the death of its founder.For many years John Katica operated the Crab Shack at Bush Point during crabbing season, but with his passing more than a year ago the shack has been closed.The humble shack is located next to the defunct Bush Point boat launch, and the grounds are managed by the Port of South Whidbey. The area is owned by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is planning on building a new boat ramp.At Wednesday's Port meeting, the commissioners were paid a visit by Coupeville residents Judy and Steve Cain. She is a park ranger and he is a home builder looking for another line of work for health reasons.Steve Cain said they purchased the Crab Shack equipment from Katica's daughter, Eileen, and he hopes to re-open soon.The demand for fresh, live, Dungeness crab seems obvious to Cain. This past week 500 people have asked me if I'm open yet, he said. He hopes that in a few weeks he can answer yes to that question.The port commissioners, Gene Sears, Jan Smith and Jim Hawley, agreed a formal lease should be prepared to allow Cain to restart the business. He assured them he will carry proper insurance.Our concern is to be a good neighbor, Smith said.I'll do everything like John did, replied Cain.The commissioners seemed pleased by the prospect of a reopened Crab Shack and set a special meeting date of Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. to sign the lease agreement.The timing should allow Cain to be open for business when the crab season begins. He said that will occur in about three weeks. He will buy his crab wholesale in Seattle and hopefully from local commercial suppliers, he said.The boat ramp planned by Fish & Wildlife could eliminate the Crab Shack site, Commissioner Smith warned. But Hawley expressed hope that should that occur, the business could relocate in the same area. Exactly when boat ramp construction will begin remains uncertain. Tom Roehl, port consultant, said he learned this week that Fish & Wildlife has appointed a specific engineer to work on the project, which he considered a bit of good news. But Fish & Wildlife has yet to apply for any of the many permits needed for construction, and that process could take a year or two, Roehl said.It's in a state of limbo right now, Smith told Cain. Maybe you'll be there for 25 years. "

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