SEASIDE — Thousands of visitors have posed in front of the namesake Big Foot statue and have enjoyed steaks, prime rib and smiley-face fries for the kids at the iconic Bigfoot’s Steakhouse on Roosevelt Drive.
After more than 20 years in business, the restaurant will close its doors after failing to come to a lease agreement with the landlord, according to owner Janis Riesterer. “I think everyone is very, very sad,” she said. “Word is spreading very fast.”
Riesterer, originally from Minnesota, conceived and operated the restaurant with her husband, John, who died in 2013.
This was the Riesterers’ first go at the restaurant business. They found the statue of Big Foot at a Seaside curio shop, and used the huge wooden Sasquatch as a theme. The restaurant opened in March 1998 as Bigfoot’s Pub ’N Grub Steakhouse on the site of what used to be a used car dealership.
The restaurant won fans far and wide for its food, cocktails and welcoming family atmosphere. “We did it with the concept ‘build it and they will come,’ and it worked,” Riesterer said.
Residents will never forget the generosity of the restaurant’s owners during the Great Coastal Gale of 2007. While other restaurants were shuttered, Bigfoot’s continued to serve throughout the week. “My husband had a big generator and for that entire week, we fed all of Cannon Beach, all of Seaside, a lot of Astoria and Warrenton,” Riesterer said. “They just kept coming day after day, and they were so thankful we were open. Everybody was so happy to be here. Because everybody was out of power.”
During the storm, restaurant staff scoured the county to find “all the stuff we needed,” as highways were closed and deliveries were at a standstill.
When a driver crashed into the iconic statue, an enterprising photographer sold the picture to Maxim Magazine.
Bigfoot’s Steakhouse has 22 employees, Riesterer said, including Matt Colburn, who has been with the steakhouse since its inception.
Riesterer said she would not be reopening elsewhere. “At 70, I couldn’t do that again,” she said.
She plans to stay in Seaside, but said she hasn’t yet figured out what she will do next.
As the final days of the restaurant tick off, Riesterer thanked the community for their support. “We’re going to miss everyone and all my staff is going to miss everyone,” she said.