From left, Bill Bonyun, Graham Welch and Kristan McCary were in the final stages of preparations Friday before the reopening of the Ajax Cafe, 21 N. Water St. in Port Hadlock. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

From left, Bill Bonyun, Graham Welch and Kristan McCary were in the final stages of preparations Friday before the reopening of the Ajax Cafe, 21 N. Water St. in Port Hadlock. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Ajax Cafe reopens in Port Hadlock

Co-owners lease building from boating school

PORT HADLOCK — The Ajax Cafe, known for its eclectic collection of hats and music performances, is open again.

The cafe, which sits near a sandy beach at 21 S. Water St., in Port Hadlock across from the lower campus of the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding, reopened Saturday following about 2 1/2 years of challenges with a failing septic system.

But a new model and partnership with the boatbuilding school has brought the “septic saga” to an end, cafe co-owner Kristan McCary said.

McCary was putting the finishing touches on the interior Friday afternoon while Graham Welch and Bill Bonyun worked in the kitchen.

With the exception of a stint from September through December last year, the Ajax had been closed due to a Jefferson County order since October 2016.

At the time, county Public Heath Officer Tom Locke told Peninsula Daily News the failed system was dumping waste water into the ground water, and since the cafe is so close to the shoreline, there was a danger of the waste water getting into marine water and shellfish beds.

McCary said many options were reviewed, but the one they chose involved the boatbuilding school purchasing the land and building, and then leasing the building to the shared group of cafe employees.

The cost was $375,000, according to documents on the school’s website.

The 30-year lease also creates a link between the school’s upper and lower campuses, and the area in between was ideal for a new septic system, McCary said.

When the cafe opened in September, it was limited to three nights per week because it was still on the failing system, McCary said.

“We had been closed for so long that people were donating money,” she said.

The failing septic system couldn’t be used during the rainy season due to ground saturation, McCary said. The cafe’s only function since then was a Valentine’s Day dinner at Finnriver Farm & Cidery, she said.

Ajax serves seafood and steak and sources many of its products from local farms.

“We try to be as sustainable as possible,” McCary said.

Dinner reservations can be made starting at 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays by calling 360-385-1965.

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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