The Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock is closed indefinitely due to ongoing issues with its septic system. With the rainy season approaching the county deemed the system unsafe for continued use. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

The Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock is closed indefinitely due to ongoing issues with its septic system. With the rainy season approaching the county deemed the system unsafe for continued use. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Owner of Port Hadlock restaurant has eyes on future after eatery’s closure

The Ajax Cafe is looking to overhaul its septic system after Jefferson County ordered the restaurant to close so it could do just that.

PORT HADLOCK — While local restaurant Ajax Cafe is closed indefinitely due to ongoing issues with its septic system, its owner is hoping to reopen eventually with a new septic system and a new business model.

Current owner Kristan McCary said she’s been working to install a new septic system — even purchasing an adjacent property to allow for enough space and working with an engineer to lay out the final design.

However, the restaurant closed unexpectedly Oct. 8 on orders from the county.

“The county felt the project wasn’t happening fast enough,” said McCary. “They gave us three days’ notice, and then we had to shut down.”

The cafe has been serving visitors and residents in Port Hadlock since 1977 and has had ongoing issues with its out-of-date septic system for roughly two years. According to Jefferson County Public Health Officer Tom Locke, with wet winter weather on its way, the current septic system was no longer an option.

“This has nothing to do with their quality as a restaurant,” said Locke. “With the coming of the rainy season, it’s just not safe to use a failed septic system. With a failed system, you’re dumping waste water into the ground water, which — with them so close to the shoreline — makes its way into marine water and shellfish beds.”

According to Locke, the restaurant could pay to have its system pumped; however, that is an expensive and short-term solution.

Instead, Ajax Cafe employees have created a GoFundMe account in order to raise money to implement a long-term solution for the septic system.

They have quite the incentive because McCary said the plan is to transfer the restaurant to an employee-owned model, where a handful of employees will manage and own shares of the restaurant.

The GoFundMe money will go toward making that transition as well.

“I think they’re going to keep much of it the same,” said McCary, “but they’ll improve what needs to be improved.”

The restaurant has raised $2,270 from 21 donors in the two days since the GoFundMe was launched. That’s barely a dent in its $221,000 goal; however, community support has helped local restaurants before.

This time last year, Sweet Laurette Cafe in Port Townsend raised $8,570 through Indiegogo to fund restaurant remodels.

Ajax Cafe will remain closed until the septic system is fixed and, according to McCary, there’s no set timeline for the completion of the project yet.

“We just have to wait until the engineer has all the information gathered and a plan,” said McCary.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

The Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock is closed indefinitely due to on going issues with their septic system. Its owner is hoping to reopen with a new septic system and a new business model. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

The Ajax Cafe in Port Hadlock is closed indefinitely due to on going issues with their septic system. Its owner is hoping to reopen with a new septic system and a new business model. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

KEITH THORPE/PENINSULA DAILY NEWS
Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer as coworker Robert Bufford prepares to secure the load as the pair prepares to open the parking lot at Port Angeles City Pier to automobiles on Friday. The work was part of a project to improve storm drainage, replace damaged sidewalks and ADA ramps and mitigate shoreline erosion around the lot, which had been closed since early January. Tree replacement and other project detail work is expected to follow over the next few weeks.
City Pier parking open

Chris Johnson of Nordland-based Nordland Construction loads traffic drums onto a trailer… Continue reading

Sequim Citizen of the Year luncheon on Tuesday

Emiko Brock, Labbe, Olsen to be honored

EYE ON THE PENINSULA: Broadband, public health before county boards

Government meetings across North Olympic Peninsula

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds

County to repave section of Carlsborg Road

Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding a contract for… Continue reading

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail and the entrance to the Port Angeles City Pier parking lot on Wednesday as part of a project to improve sidewalks and storm water drainage around the site. The project is expected to be substantially completed and the parking lot reopened by mid-March. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Angeles City Pier

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail… Continue reading

Port Townsend approves utility rate changes, renames skate park

Public hearing set for Transportation Benefits District

Slate of initiatives has upended Olympia, lobbyist says

‘Potential showstoppers’ described at Coffee with Colleen

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port Townsend, uses a pencil for scale as she sketches the work at the new entrance to Point Hudson Marina on Monday morning. A group in town, the Port Townsend Urban Sketchers will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday to sketch at the Port Townsend Aero Museum. Sessions are free and open to sketchers of all skill levels. For more information, see www.urbansketchersporttownsend.wordpress.com. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Marina art

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port… Continue reading