Enola Baeten, who spent 15 years on and off working at the The Ship Inn on Astoria’s waterfront, had always wanted to own her own restaurant, or something similar.
The closure of the British-themed fish and chips haunt earlier this year gave Baeten the impetus she needed to start planning her creation: Enola’s Ship Out, opening this week near the Lewis and Clark Golf & RV Resort.
The new food cart, custom-built in Portland, features a full kitchen on the inside and a panorama of Astoria and the Columbia River created by local artist Bryce Harris.
Like The Lunch Wagon at the Astoria Regional Airport, Baeten opted to open her food cart in a more rural business corridor with few nearby restaurants. She also expects a boost from a 35-unit housing development being built next to Lewis and Clark Elementary School, along with high schoolers on lunch break. Her location also provides indoor seating inside a vacant greenhouse next door.
The Ship Inn, opened in 1974, closed in April after owner Jill Stokeld sold the property to developer Mark Hollander, who also purchased the former Stephanie’s Cabin property. Hollander also leases property from the Port of Astoria under the Astoria Bridge and has been studying the feasibility of siting a Marriott-branded hotel in Astoria.
“There’s so many people that were so bummed about The Ship Inn closing,” Baeten said.
Her menu has incorporated much of the fare at Ship Inn, including halibut, cod, scallops, oysters and prawns, along with clam chowder. The menu also includes more Americana offerings such as burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs, along with desserts.
“We just kind of tried to appeal to something everybody would want,” she said.
Baeten has worked at quite a few restaurants, she said, starting at The Ship Inn at 16 bussing tables, hostessing, washing dishes and cooking. She has been a local real estate agent and hairdresser, and owned a salon and auto detailing business. She and her husband own Neal Baeten Autobody Inc. in Lewis and Clark near her food cart.
“He has a bucket list with many things on it,” she said of her husband, who provides support at the food cart. “My bucket list had one thing on it. And this is it.”