OLALLA, Wash. — “It was devastating."
That's how Olalla resident Barbara Lindstrom described the morning she learned the soon-to-be opening Olalla Bay Market was destroyed in a fire.
"We drove by all the time and we watched it growing and watched it coming together and then to hear about the fire – it was pretty hard on everybody here in the community," Lindstrom said. "It was that community that brought it back to life again, quickly. Quicker than I thought it was going to open."
The Olsen family purchased the former Al's Butcher Shop and Grocery in February 2021. Work to transform it into the Olalla Bay Market started immediately.
Gregg Olsen, his family and crew working on the renovations video journaled the progress with pride.
At about the 18-month mark, a two-alarm fire devastated the Olsens and the Olalla community.
Plans to host a special opening event in October 2022 were dashed.
KING 5 reported on the fire the morning it happened on Aug. 16, 2022. The damage was significant, according to Olsen.
Community members quickly set up a GoFundMe page and raised about $50,000. The bulk of the funds went toward fire damage cleanup.
Work resumed, but another wave of issues came up when late December king tides flooded the market's lot and damaged the Olalla Bay Landing.
For months, Olsen and his family tried to put a new opening date on the calendar, but they decided it was best to keep working and wait for an opening date to come along.
A soft launch for the Olalla Bay Market began in April to test out the food and drink menu. Perfecting a sourdough crust for the pizza was all part of the process.
Once you step inside, a special pizza oven, flown in from Italy to Olalla, is likely going to catch your eye.
The Olalla Bay Market serves coffee, espresso, beer, wine, Sicilian pizza by the slice, breakfast sandwiches, and more.
The market has grocery items for sale, Olalla hometown pride merchandise, and several food and beverage items made in Olalla and across Washington state. You will also find signed copies of Olsen's bestsellers for sale by the register.
“What we've noticed in the short time it has been opened is the sense of community that people are already experiencing, and we are just so excited," said Lindstrom, who said the market's patio is the best view you can find.
Several people have been enjoying food and drinks on the bay watching for whales and seals.
Olsen agrees with Lindstrom – the sense of community has been the main motivator to push forward.
"I wanted it for so long. I wanted that grand opening and I kept promising it," Olsen said. “I don’t think it gets any better than this after all we’ve been through."
The market now employs 20 people.
"That's one of the great things about having a business," Olsen said. "Not just serving your customers but serving your community and those that want to work. I'm really kind of in awe that something we can do as a family can create opportunities for other people in their lives and supporting their families. I feel great about that and we have some really great people on staff."
Featuring the present with the newly transformed space and selling products from local businesses is part of what Olsen loves about Olalla Bay Market.
The other part he loves is the nod to the past. Several pieces of historical significance are featured throughout the market.
"Come and see us," Olsen said. "Come to Olalla. See what it's all about. Try our pizza and mingle with our locals because you're going to want to come back."
Olalla Bay Market is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
To stay up to date on opening weekend activities and hours, click here.