Business Community

KettleFish restaurant closing after about a year in Gig Harbor

Posted on October 19th, 2023 By:

KettleFish, which opened on Pioneer Way to great acclaim a little over a year ago, will close in the coming days, co-owner Dave Montoure said on Wednesday, Oct. 18. 

Montoure said a combination of factors contributed to the decision to close the restaurant. They include rising costs, a sluggish economy and an abrupt seasonal downturn in customer traffic this fall.

KettleFish will also close its location in the Old Town district of the Kitsap County community of Silverdale. The exact closure date for the Gig Harbor location depends on when it runs out of its current inventory of fresh fish.

“Hurry up and get your last fix of KettleFish,” Montoure said. “We’ll see you down the road, I guess.” 

KettleFish co-owners Dave Montoure, left, and Paddy O’Brien in October 2022. Vince Dice

Good food, casual setting 

KettleFish opened Oct. 10, 2022, in the Pioneer Way building that previously housed Kelly’s Café and Espresso and Kelly’s Toys. It was the second KettleFish location, following the Silverdale restaurant that opened in 2019.

The idea behind KettleFish was to offer high-quality seafood in a casual setting. It employs a steam kettle cooking system, in which superheated steam is pumped into the jacket of a metal kettle. 

The Gig Harbor restaurant’s opening was pushed back by construction and permitting delays. In 2022, curious passers-by could often be seen peering into the window of the prominent storefront.

Montoure said he and business partner Paddy O’Brien will turn their attention to helping find new jobs for their employees facing unemployment. Montoure said KettleFish employed about 10 people between its two locations. 

“That’s our most important thing,” Montoure said, asking any potential employers to email him at [email protected]. “If anybody’s hiring out there, we’d love to talk to them. They’re all really good people.”

Rising costs and a fall slump 

Montoure, a restaurant industry veteran who previously owned a West Seattle institution known as West5, said rising costs were too much to keep up with. He cited soaring fuel prices as a particularly intractable problem, since it impacts every aspect of business. 

“It was sort of a perfect storm,” Montoure said. “Recession, energy costs, the rising costs of just the operation. We don’t have the ability keep up with that.” 

The restaurant also experienced an abrupt post-Labor Day drop-off in business. Even recent sunny weather didn’t bring people back in to the restaurant. 

“We didn’t’ realize how dramatic the drop off is in downtown Gig Harbor,” he said. “It was shocking.”

Gig Harbor Downtown Waterfront Alliance Executive Director Carrianne Ekberg agreed that business can slow when tourists stop boating into town. But she said she didn’t want people to be left with the impression that “downtown is dying.”

“We’re working really hard as the alliance to find ways to promote the downtown waterfront district as not just for tourists in the summer, but for people all year around,” Ekberg said.  

KettleFish is at 7806 Pioneer Way in Gig Harbor. Vince Dice

Another factor, she added is, “we’re definitely seeing a shift in the economy. All the post-Covid business support tools have dried up and gone away.” 

‘Thanks, Gig Harbor’

Ekberg noted that Montoure worked hard to become part of the Gig Harbor business community, from watering flower pots in the summer to volunteering at the alliance’s farmer’s market. 

“Dave and his team have been an amazing supporter of the alliance and Gig Harbor in general,” she said. “He volunteered so much time and energy …. He will definitely be missed.” 

Montoure said the KettleFish brand remains viable. He and O’Brien hope to revive the idea eventually. 

“Thanks, Gig Harbor. Thanks, Silverdale and Kitsap,” he said. “You might just see something emerge someday.”