Construction complete on new Embarcadero eatery

The newest addition to the Morro Bay waterfront is looking for a few businesses to fill some vacant spaces, in what is certainly a unique-looking edifice.

Morro Bay Landing, located at 1213 Embarcadero, finished construction in mid-December by leaseholder, Bob Fowler, and completes a total rebuilding of a lease site that was once the home of Virg’s Landing, and includes new floating docks and the latest addition to the Morro Bay Harborwalk.

Fowler, sitting in a small temporary office on the second floor, said they finished construction last Dec. 19 and were given an occupancy permit by the City effective Feb. 1. 

Already slated to open in the new building with the swayed roofline that architect, Gene Doughty, said represents waves in the ocean, are Patriot Sportfishing and Grassy Bar Oyster Co. 

Patriot runs a tackle shop, sport fishing trips and whale watching tours, and is also a retail dealer for Hobie Kayaks, Fowler said. Patriot also runs sport-fishing trips out of Port San Luis.

Morro Bay Landing

Patriot, while open for business is still putting finishing touches on its retail store and tackle shop, and expects to be fully open before the April 1 start of rock cod season.

Grassy Bar Oysters, owned by George Trevelyan and family, is still moving into its space on the north side of the building. Fowler explained that because of State Health Department rules for shellfish during the winter, when rains potentially wash pollutants into the back bay oyster beds, Grassy Bar would have to essentially shut down until the water clears again. That could be weeks or months.

By setting up “depuration” tanks, they can run cleaned water through the oysters and essentially flush them of impurities, and thus stay open for business year round.

Grassy Bar will sell wholesale to local restaurants and also have a retail market to sell raw oysters to the public. Then people can take them home and barbecue them themselves, Fowler said. They even plan to offer free raw oyster samples to the gastro-intestinally courageous.

Having a convenient dock by the market will allow Grassy Bar to bring in water from the Back Bay, which has a different salinity than the upper bay waters where MB Landing is located. They’ll have up to 20,000 oysters at a time in the tanks.

The oyster market has had to undergo vigorous review by the State, County and City, he explained.

The extension of the Harborwalk is actually along the floating docks that start at a gangway at the South T-pier and run behind new docks at GAFCo., and Harbor Hut to another gangway at Morro Bay Landing. 

The site was formerly Virg’s Landing and the dock plans were originally put together as a joint project by Virg’s, Harbor Hut and GAFCo. 

The plans to tear down the old Virg’s tackle shop and replace it with a two-story building were first proposed by Darby Neil, whose family were the former owner of Virg’s Landing. But those plans never really got past being approved.

Since Fowler took over, the new floats were installed creating a “marina” look, and now the new building is done.

There are three spaces currently up for lease, Fowler said. There is an 1,100 square-foot space on the first floor in the center of the building and running all the way to the rear patio.

And a 700 square-feet of space at the northern corner of the building that fronts on the north side.

A 952 square-foot upstairs restaurant space is also available for lease. Fowler said he expects whoever leases the space to finish out the walls and décor and he will work with them on installing a commercial kitchen.

He didn’t install one because different types of restaurants require different setups with the equipment.

“We’ll do the heavy construction part of the kitchen,” he said. 

What kind of restaurant would he like to see? 

“I’m looking for something different,” he said. “I don’t want a surf-and-turf place. I would like to see sushi, or a brewpub. We’re talking with a Thai Restaurant owner from the Fresno area, who is currently doing another project and said he’d be interested after that project is done; if it’s still available.”

So how did the construction go? Other than being delayed several months during the winter of 2017, it went pretty well.

“We had these huge beams stored in the City’s triangle lot across the street,” he recalled. “We cut them and drilled them over there, and then brought them here to install. I was really worried they weren’t going to fit. It was like putting together a big puzzle.”

Doughty was also the contractor, as well the architect on the project. He also designed, built and installed the floating docks. 

The building has a different look to it, but Fowler said he’s gotten many positive comments, now that construction is complete. “I replaced an old, iconic building with a new, iconic building,” he said.

If readers are interested in the vacant spaces in the new Morro Bay Landing, call Bob Fowler at (805) 701-5702.