Business

As Blaine continues to transform, an eatery and seafood market are enjoying the view

Two seafood specialists pair in downtown Blaine

Drayton Harbor Oyster Company and Kaisacole Seafood, a division of Barlean's Fishery, moved into a new building in downtown Blaine, Wash., in May 2019.
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Drayton Harbor Oyster Company and Kaisacole Seafood, a division of Barlean's Fishery, moved into a new building in downtown Blaine, Wash., in May 2019.

A Blaine restaurant has moved into a new spot where customers can look out the windows to see where their food came from.

Last month the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company moved into 685 Peace Portal Drive in downtown Blaine. The new spot overlooks Drayton Harbor, and the oyster bar provides binoculars near the outdoor deck for customers who want to check out the oyster farm.

Being able to see the oyster farm in the distance gives Mark Seymour and his employees a chance to explain the tide-to-table system format to customers. It appears they have an interested crowd, too: On a good day they are serving around 200 dozen oysters at the restaurant.

With the breeze coming in off the harbor, it’s also reminding some customers of East Coast oyster bars, said Seymour, who operates the business with his dad, Steve. They are operating it as an oyster-centric bar: preparation is done in front of the customers, who can order their oysters raw, grilled or stewed. That’s pretty much all that’s on the menu, along with local beers on tap and wine.

In a nearby space, Kaisacole Seafood opened around the same time, selling locally caught salmon, crabs and clams as well as other seafood products. Mark Riedesel operates the market, which is a division of his other company, Barlean’s Fishery.

Riedesel said he wanted to open a market in a shopping district to embrace more of the public. Before Kaisacole’s opened, shoppers who wanted Barlean’s fresh seafood products had to make the a trip to the retail store at 3660 Slater Road. That store remains open.

He wanted the Blaine market to be a different brand, hence the Kaisacole name. The business name is a combination of family member names — Kai is Mark’s son, Isa is his daughter and Nicole is his wife.

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Employee Gabbi Lord prepares oysters Thursday at Drayton Harbor Oyster Company. The restaurant, along with Kaisacole Seafood, a division of Barlean’s Fishery, moved into a new building in downtown Blaine last month. Dave Gallagher The Bellingham Herald

Both Seymour and Riedesel are very happy with the response they’ve received from the public. Drayton Harbor Oyster Company originally opened nearby in 2015 in what was a low-key operation. At that time, the shopping district was much less lively, Seymour said. With several other restaurants and shops recently arriving on the scene, Seymour said there is much more to do in Blaine and that’s attracting more shoppers. That includes Canadians, who come despite the relatively weak Canadian dollar that is hovering around 75 cents compared to the U.S. dollar.

Riedesel agreed that it is a more lively scene in Blaine compared to just a few years ago. He said it’s one of the last waterfront areas in Whatcom County to fill in. It’s reached a tipping point that has brought investors into the area, he said.

Kaisacole Seafood is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday, closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Drayton Harbor Oyster Company is open on the same days for lunch and dinner. Details about Kaisacole can be found on the Barlean’s Fishery Facebook page, while details about Drayton Harbor Oyster Company can be found on its website.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.

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