The owners of Johnny’s Dock Restaurant and Marina say they have reached a deal to sell the longtime Thea Foss Waterway fixture.
The transaction has not yet been finalized, but a restaurant representative said the final paperwork should be signed soon. The sale includes the property, business and marina.
“It’ll be done in the next three weeks,” said Suzanne Goodin, a 25-year employee of the restaurant who now serves as office manager. She was speaking on behalf of the restaurant.
The restaurant’s owners, business partners John Crabill and Dave Bingham, have told employees that the investors buying the restaurant don’t plan any immediate changes, Goodin said.
“We’re all waiting to see what’s going to happen,” she added.
The Foss restaurant long has been known for its waterside perch overlooking the marina, its menu of seafood, steaks and American classics and reputation for making a solid martini.
“I don’t believe they’ve had a restaurant before,” said Goodin of the trio of investors purchasing the restaurant.
Crabill and Bingham have owned the restaurant since 1986 when they acquired it from Crabill’s grandfather, Johnny Meaker, after whom the restaurant is named. He was also the same Johnny behind Johnny’s Seasoning Salt and the company that sold it, Johnny’s Fine Foods.
Johnny and Beulah “Bea” Meaker founded the restaurant about 64 years ago on Pier 3, but it burned down in 1961, was rebuilt and then moved to its current location at 1900 E. D St. in 1977. In addition to Johnny’s Fine Foods, the Meakers also founded another restaurant, Johnny’s at Fife. Crabill will continue to operate that restaurant.
Neither the buyers’ nor seller’s real estate broker released a sale price for the property Tuesday, saying the deal hasn’t closed.
First Western Properties broker Ray Velkers, who represented the buyer, said the buyers are two local businessmen. He did not feel comfortable providing more details until the transaction closes in seven to 10 days.
“They’ve been investigating everything for about a year,” Velkers said. “It’s been a year of feasibility.”
The property was on the market for nearly two years, said seller’s representative Liz Davidson with Sotheby’s International Realty in Kirkland.
Lisa Spadoni is principal planner with the city of Tacoma. Last year, the city fielded several inquires about legal uses on the parcel, including from two potential buyers, Spadoni said.
Questions included whether a mixed-use development would be allowed there, such as ground-floor retail or a restaurant topped by several floors of condos or apartments.
Spadoni said Tuesday such a development would be allowed and that someone could build as high as 100 feet on that parcel and wouldn’t be required to provide parking, according to the current zoning. Spadoni also said the potential buyers asked questions about structured parking.
“It’s a very narrow piece of land and that is a constraint on the property,” she said.
Development on the east side of the Thea Foss Waterway has been a thorny topic in the past.
At one point developer Mike Cohen of Point Ruston fame envisioned a nine-story office and residential building called Crosswater, where the city’s Urban Waters now sits. Business interests rallied against the notion, and Cohen turned his eye to Point Ruston instead.
Johnny’s Dock Restaurant and Marina
Where: 1900 E. D St., Tacoma
Info: 253-627-3186, johnnysdock.com