Ocean Crest Resort
An ocean oasis
A bluff, a tree-filled ravine, the unending ocean. You, being treated like family, relaxing in your rustic-beach room with a view and fireplace. It’s no dream, it’s Ocean Crest Resort, about three hours from Seattle and 18 miles north of Ocean Shores.
Barbara Curtright bought the one bedroom home and four cabins in 1953, moving in with her four children. Ocean Shores was still a ranch, and the Washington coast was not a tourist destination. To be in the AAA guide, there had to be six rental units, so the garage was converted, and a sixth cabin built. Guests came for Saturday night, but the family wanted them to stay longer, so they began serving complimentary clam chowder around a campfire on Friday nights. Barbara had acquired the previous owner’s recipe for the chowder. The unchanged recipe has been shared over the years, and won two blue ribbons at the Ocean Shores Razor Clam Festival.
Barbara’s husband Jess suggested they open a restaurant. Not crazy about the idea, she relented, only if it was by reservation. In 1963, in a small town, no one thought this was a good idea. Yet they cantilevered a dining room from their house over the bluff. By 1964, they had to open a second dining room. The house and restaurant have been the nucleus of the resort ever since. When people made reservations, they also placed their dinner order. This allowed the family to grocery shop. They offered 5-6 items plus clam chowder, dessert, coffee. Everything was produced from Barbara’s home kitchen. “Things have changed so much,” laughs Jess Owen, one of Barbara’s grandsons and assistant general manager of the resort. “No Health Department, no commercial kitchen.”
Ocean Crest was the first resort on the Washington coast to stay open year round. “Other owners were snow birds,” recalls Jess. As Jess’s wife Sara says, “It wasn’t just about the restaurant, it was about entertainment as well.” Grandpa would smoke salmon on the bluff, wearing a buckskin jacket and Indian headdress and bring the salmon into the restaurant to beating drums. “It was a whole different time,” recalls Jess. He thinks they may have been the first restaurant on the mainland to serve steak and lobster. His grandparents had visited Hawaii and came home saying it was good, but wanting to use higher quality ingredients. The first menu priced the meal between $4 and $5. At one time, part of the restaurant was the Gold Room and was black tie.
“The idea is that you come and stay with our family,” says Sara. “At Grandma’s house, hospitality was old school, and still is today. Every Curtright worked at the resort, at least until they went to college.” Jess started at the restaurant at age 11. At 15, his parents moved to Eugene where his high school had a very advanced computer lab. He did an internship as a computer systems operator and was offered a job in Tennessee. Deciding to stay in the Northwest, he worked at the resort for a few years, then returned to Eugene for business school. He met Sara in Eugene; they talked about him wanting to help run the family business. She agreed, as long as she had a commitment. They married in 1996 and headed to the resort in February 1997. They have worked every position in the resort.
Staffing changes led Jess into the kitchen, where he found a passion and talent. “I had no culinary training, but spent most of my life in the kitchen.” Winemaker dinners were based on the wine, and he would stress about creating menus to complement the wines. “Jess would walk around muttering ‘potatoes!’ or ‘shrimp, I like shrimp!’ kind of like Rain Man,” laughs Sara. “We began calling him The Culinary Madman™.” His dishes sound crazy, but people love them. To go with an elk dish, he matched the side dish with the huckleberry sauce rather than the elk and developed white chocolate whipped potatoes. He paired chai halibut with Syrah, cooking it in parchment and serving over braised fennel and apples. He’s made chocolate chip crimini cookies with espresso panna cotta, and a chocolate soup (‘like a liquid brownie’ sighs Sara).
“We started the winemaker dinners because of our wine list. It was ridiculous for a small town, but we had over 400 wines, including Quilceda Creek verticals back to 1998. Our wines are primarily Washington and we’ve won numerous awards,” says Jess.
Many famous people have dined at Ocean Crest, including Joe Namath, John Wayne, Anthony Geary, Greg Nichols, Maria Cantwell, John McCain, Ted Nugent, and Apolo Ohno. In 1974, the San Francisco Chronicle named it The Best Restaurant North of San Francisco.
The restaurant fun ended on June 20, 2011, when a suspected electrical fire burned down Barbara’s home and the restaurant. “We lost family history, photos, original menus, computers. They let it burn for three days because the bluff was sliding from all the water. We had to remove 11 trees, and rebuild the stairs to the beach,” says Sara. “We worked for two years getting help with permitting, insurance, contractors. We miss our guests and look forward to reopening the restaurant in spring of 2014. We’ll have to learn a new flow in the restaurant. We take wine and food seriously. Once we’ve got it, we’ll re-start the winemaker dinners.”
The exterior will still have multiple sloping rooflines; the interior will be completely different. It will have the same view through the trees to the ocean, “Very Swiss Family Robinson,” says Sara. Seating capacity will be about 70 with the bar and dining room. Eventually, they’ll have a small outdoor dining area.
The resort and spa have remained open. There are 45 rooms in different configurations: ocean view, partial view, no view; studios, one and two bedrooms; no kitchens, kitchenettes, full kitchens; a duplex ¼ mile away with ocean view and adjoining door for large groups; pet-friendly rooms. The Cedar Serenity Spa is open 365 days a year with hot tub, tanning bed, heated pool, sauna, exercise room, massage.
WheWhen it’s time to truly relax in a gorgeous setting, it’s time to make your way to Ocean Crest Resort.
Ocean Crest Resort
4651 SR 109
Moclips, WA 98562
Photos courtesy of Ocean Crest Resort]]>
Click here to view the embedded video.I apologize if there is any quality loss, I received the video as a finished DVD with Title Screen. I had to use a screen capture program to capture the video on my computer before I could upload it to YouTube.
Thank you again to our friends, Phil and Shirley.]]>
WDFW will announce the final word on upcoming digs after marine toxin tests have been completed. Those digs are tentatively scheduled on the following dates and low tides:
This post will give you a quick update on the progress of our rebuild. I know most of you are facebook Fans and you can see the facebook Feed on the homepage of our Desktop Website (not the mobile version), but our banker was concerned that he had not seen a blog post (even though he is a facebook Fan).
Why am I telling you all of this? I am telling you all of this information because the standard for a good blog post is over 800 words. In order to bend over backwards to make the search engines and our banker happy, I am explaining the situation as much as I can in order to use as many words as I can.
I have taken a little video for you to view the progress. The piles are in the ground, foundation is complete and framing is under way!
Click here to view the embedded video.]]>
After a very long two years, our patience is finally being rewarded. On Monday, July 22, 2013, we drove our first of many production piles.
Thank you to all of our fans and friends who have gone on this journey with us. Here are some pictures of the activity. There will be MANY more to follow.
That was the headline of the newspaper page that was given to me by the Museum of the North Beach. This is a fantastic piece of history from 44 years ago, to the day!
Unfortunately the scan if the page is not terribly legible, so we have typed out the article for your enjoyment.
If there is one business on the North Beach that could be called “famous”, it would have to be Ocean Crest Resort, just south of Moclips-and the evidence would be reams of newspaper and magazine copy. In the 17 years since the Curtright family bought Ocean Crest, then a small nest of four “cottages”, the resort has become a favorite of many writers from Pacific Northwest newspapers as well as publications from other parts of the country.
THEY WRITE glowingly about the Ocean Crest’s food, it’s accommodations, and most of all, it’s hospitality. It is sincere praise, and, from the OBSERVER’s view, well earned.
Building Ocean Crest from an exceedingly modest cabin camp to the status of a nationally recognized resort has been a family affair all the way. Both Barbara and Jess Curtright were competent amateur chefs when they bought the cabins in 1953, and their great desire than was to some day add a fine restaurant to the place.
BUT THERE WAS about a thousand tons of hammering, sawing, scrimping, pipefitting, painting, building, financing, planning and just plain carrying that had to come first.
Now the Crest’s dining room and lounge, with the intimate Gourmet Gold Room, and the resort’s outstanding and somewhat stunning menu, are familiar to thousands of guests, most of them “repeaters” often and enthusiastically.
THE LATEST and most ambitions improvement to Ocean Crest is a three-story, 17 unit motel guest building just finished on the south side of the resort’s picturesque ravine, leading to the beach.
ACCOMODATIONS in the new building range all way from cozy double beds at $12 a night through family units with several beds and cooking facilities to the plush bridal unit, with it’s king size bed, red velvet, and private balcony overlooking the ocean.
The original four units, much modified and improved and redecorated, now surround the indoor swimming pool on the north side of Ocean Crest. Three more units have been added.
ACROSS THE highway the Holiday House, with it’s three two bedroom apartments, brings the present total of units at Ocean Crest to 27.
All during the development of Ocean Crest to its present state as a major resort, the Curtright children have taken an active part.
ROB CURTRIGHT, the oldest, is a graduate of the school of hotel and restaurant management at Washington State University, and now bears a large part of the responsibility of operating Ocean Crest. Sid Curtright, 26, now lives in Snohomish, Wash, but all during his school years was an active helper at Ocean Crest.
Both daughters, Barbara Ann and Shari, have waited table, cooked, acted as receptionists and worked at other jobs in the resort. Barbara Ann, now Mrs. Sam Owen, lives in San Diego. Shari, the youngest at 18, graduated from Moclips high school this year, and is doing a good share of the resort’s cooking this summer, before going to WSU this fall.
IN FACT, gourmet cooking is a family tradition with the Curtrights. In the early days of the resort, and in fact until quite recently, the cooking was done by Barbara, Barbara Ann and Shari.
Jess, until his untimely death several years ago, delighted in donning a gold coat, the wine cellar chain and key, and preparing exotic meals on chafing dishes in the Gourmet Gold Room.
Mainstay in the kitchen now is Phyllis Hardy, of Pacific Beach, who came to the Ocean Crest about a year ago. One night late last month she had 30 meals to prepare, all different, and all ordered at the same time.
“It was wild. But it was fun”, she sighed.
Ocean Crest’s swimming pool-one of the first in any North Beach resort-is heated and covered for year-round use.
“Let’s face it. If a pool is to be of any use to guests other than in the summer, it has to be protected against our off-season weather. That’s why ours in indoors, in a separate building. Our fall and winter visitors want to swim too.”
Ocean Crest, open year round, also features saunas.
A conference, seminar or party room is one feature of the new 17-unit addition to Ocean Crest resort.
The new room will handle meetings or parties of up to 30 persons comfortably, and more in a pinch. It is in the lower level of the new addition, and has a separate outside entrance.
The conference room has a soothing view of the cool, green ravine leading from Ocean Crest to the beach, to calm otherwise hot-tempered business meetings. Information on the use of the room can be had by phoning the Crest’s reservation office at 276-4465.
The Curtrights of Ocean Crest have long been firm believers in “infecting” the traveler with one of the most catching viruses extant-beachcombing!
A sweeping look at Ocean Crest will tell you that all the Curtright family caught the virus long ago. Floats, ship’s lanterns, part of an old Indian dugout canoe, shells, glass balls-all of the fascinating flotsam the sea brings in has been made a part of the general décor of the resort.
Here is what various newspaper and travel writers have had to say about the accommodations and hospitality at Ocean Crest:
“Ocean Crest is something else again!…and a wine cellar that’s hard to match…”-Walt Evans, Entertainment Editor and Feature Writer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
“Luxury resort in this out of the way corner of the continental United States…and the world is beating a path to it’s door.”-Dick Barrett, San Jose (Calif.) Mercury-News.
“Ocean Crest does a turn-away business most of the year…”-Marshall Wilson, Special Writer, Seattle Times.
The sleek Siamese cat who walks around Ocean Crest like he owns the place-does. He is Rangoon, a beach-adjusted Sealpoint male whose duties include hunting field mice and welcoming guests.
I rushed from my home in Ocean Shores to the resort in Moclips. There it was, a bunch of fire trucks, a whole lot of smoke, and soon… flames that just wouldn’t stop.
We have shed a lot of tears in the last two years, but the healing process is finally beginning for me. This new restaurant will not replace all that was lost, nothing ever does, but it is a chance to start a new chapter of Ocean Crest Resort history.]]>
Ocean Crest Resort is extending an invitation to all of our guests, fans, friends, and community members to be a part of our Groundbreaking Ceremony which will be held on the construction site at 1:00pm, Saturday, June 22, 2013. You have all been to support us since the tragic fire and we want you to be a part of our rebuilding process.
After the Groundbreaking Ceremony, refreshments will be served. We hope that you can come and be a part of this momentous occasion to celebrate with us, mix, mingle, meet other Ocean Crest Resort fans and share some of your favorite Ocean Crest Resort stories.]]>
Thank you everybody for rooting for us and sending positive thoughts our way. It has been a long, hard 23 months and we have more to go, but there is FINALLY a light at the end of the tunnel.
Today we signed the documents that will begin the construction process! Now that we have the green light we will be arranging a ground breaking ceremony.
Stay tuned for further details!]]>