Jay and Cindy Beckman knew that they had built a restaurant that was beloved by their community of 25 years. But they didn’t know how important that community was until the morning of July 21, 2018, when their family-run restaurant burst into flames.
“It was awful,” says Cindy Beckman, who co-owns Ecola Seafoods Restaurant & Market in downtown Cannon Beach. The iconic spot is known for its fresh fish and chips, homemade clam chowder and wild seafood, sustainably line-caught by Jay Beckman and his crew of commercial fishermen.
The couple’s son-in-law is a volunteer firefighter for the city, so it was he who showed up first to put out the blaze, Cindy recalls. Then the rebuilding began. Since it was an electrical fire, the kitchen was gutted and most of the restaurant damaged.
Luckily, the community embraced them and they rebuilt in four months to the day, reopening in late November 2018 after missing the busiest season of the year on the Coast.
“Employees came back and helped every single day to rebuild, along with local contractors,” Cindy says. Customers and their families also helped; a nephew carpenter built a new aisle for customers waiting in line. All of the kitchen equipment was upgraded. They decided to offer biodegradable straws, to keep plastics out the local marine ecosystem. And they continue to source fresh Oregon seafood to hungry visitors, all year-round.
“We have so many customers — it’s a tradition to come to our place,” Cindy says. “We would just hear them say ‘We’re so sorry you’re closed.’ It really opened my eyes, how much ripple effect it had.”
By Jen Anderson
Photo by Robbie McClaran