CANNON BEACH - After more than two decades in business, a mainstay of the midtown Cannon Beach culinary scene is closing its doors.
Since 1989, a red crab flanked by a blue ribbon at the corner of Hemlock Street and Sunset Boulevard has pointed hungry patrons to Dooger's Seafood and Grill, a family-friendly restaurant priding itself on offering "the freshest and finest seafood to be found."
Not to mention its famous "Chowder in a Bag" kits.
Co-owner Mary Jean Wiese has attributed the restaurant's closure to slow business in the wake of the current economic downturn.
Wiese stressed that she and her partner, husband Doug, are grateful to Cannon Beach residents for their patronage and support, and said she wouldn't rule out the restaurant reopening here one day.
"It was a beautiful time. Maybe we'll come back someday if something changes," she said.
The Cannon Beach location is one of three Dooger's restaurants opened by the Wieses on the north coast. The locations in Seaside and Warrenton remain open.
On Jan. 4, the Wieses announced to their managers and their landlord that they'd be closing the doors of the Cannon Beach restaurant. On Jan. 5, they passed the news on to their 40 employees.
By Jan. 7, the blue Dooger's sign had been removed from the building.
The Wieses opened their first restaurant, in downtown Seaside, in 1983. They decided to call it "Dooger's" after one of Doug Wiese's nicknames.
Back then, Mary Jean prepped the food and Doug cooked it. Their business grew and they expanded the flagship restaurant in 1988.
In 1989, they opened a second location, in Cannon Beach.
In 2004, they opened the third restaurant, at Young's Bay Plaza in Warrenton.
The Wieses may be downsizing, but the restaurant news here isn't all bad: A neighboring seafood restaurant says it's ready to bring on several of the restaurant workers left unemployed by Dooger's closure.
Mo's restaurant in Tolovana Park is gearing up for its summer hiring push, said assistant manager Lisa Sarish, with plans to double its staff to 90 in anticipation of the busy tourist season.
Although the two restaurants have competed for business in the past, the Mo's staff is sad to see a fellow Cannon Beach restaurant go, said Sarish. "A lot of people who work at Dooger's are friends and family members of people who've worked at Mo's for a long time," she said.
"There's that competitive edge, because we're both seafood restaurants, but it's always been a very positive relationship.
"As soon as we heard, my supervisor said, Spread the word. We'll take qualified people on here.' We're not going to leave them jobless."
The search for a new tenant to fill the empty restaurant space is on, said Kirby Blankenship, vice president and director of operations for Hallmark Inns and Resorts, which owns the building that formerly housed Dooger's.
"It's all a bit of a shock to us, because we didn't know anything at all until a week ago," said Blankenship, "when we were informed they were literally closing that night.
"We don't know what we'll do, but our first preference is for a three-meals-a-day restaurant. After that, we'll have to see what the interest areas and suggestions are from people interested in the space."
Blankenship said the Hallmark hopes to find another long-term tenant capable of matching the Wieses' longevity.
"Ultimately, that's what our first priority is," he said, "finding another operator as successful as Dooger's.
"They were there for 23 years. If we could find another restaurant that would stay for 23 years, that would be best."