Kraken’s Cove restaurant expanding, ‘having a ball’

The opening of Kraken’s Cove Oak Harbor happened with four unique skillsets and fortuitous timing.

The opening of Kraken’s Cove Restaurant & Lounge in Oak Harbor happened with four unique skillsets and fortuitous timing.

Co-owners Kevin and Megan Collins and Dave and Teddy Grace opened its doors in September 2023 on Pioneer Way, the former location of the historic Oak Harbor Tavern which shut down in 2020 under COVID-19 regulations.

Kevin and Megan had been looking to open a restaurant for years, Kevin said, but a golden opportunity arose when Dave Grace, a carpenter, came into the Veterans of Foreign Wars where they were managing and proposed a similar idea. With decades of experience in the restaurant business, Kevin and Megan offered to go in with him.

Kevin formerly worked as the food and beverage manager for the Swinomish Casino and managed his family’s restaurant, For Pete’s Sake Steakhouse in Oak Harbor, for 22 years, he said. For Kraken’s Cove, Dave handled the remodel, Teddy ran design, Kevin works the kitchen and Megan tends the bar.

“I run the bar. He runs the kitchen,” Megan said. “That’s how we stay married.”

Driving along Pioneer Way, the first thing people see is the kraken statue, Megan said. The last thing they see is the kraken mural. Thus, the name, Kraken’s Cove, was born.

Kraken’s Cove offers fine dining at family prices, Kevin said. They wanted to offer a place for the whole family. On Friday’s karaoke night, people of all ages can participate until 10 p.m. Parents can get a drink, and the kids can have some fun too. Then later in the night they have time for entertainment without kids.

Kraken’s Cove’s logo shows three twirly kraken arms. The one on the left holds a steak knife, the one on the right holds a seafood fork and the one in the middle, a microphone.

Entertainment is as important as food, Kevin said. He started his DJ business in 1987, and now they have live musicians play every evening.

“We’ve got that fun, cool music vibe going on here,” he said. “It just creates nothing but smiles and a buzz all over this town.”

Kraken’s Cove sees value in supporting local, Kevin said. Right now, they have two beers on tap from Crossed Arrows Brewery, just seven doors down.

“We have local entertainment. We buy local. Everything is local,” he said. “[Megan and I have] been here forever, so we like to support local.”

The Kraken’s Cove building was built in the early 1850s and started as a warehouse, store and saloon right on the water owned by Edward Barrington, a sea captain from Nova Scotia who owned much of the Oak Harbor waterfront. Forner’s Tavern opened between 1852 and 1856, and in 1939 it changed its name to the Oak Harbor Tavern and moved across the street to its current location. The Oak Harbor Tavern was one of the oldest and longest running bars in the state.

A different owner originally acquired the building and gutted it in 2020, Kevin said. When that business never opened, the quartet seized the opportunity and started to build.

“People thought we were crazy,” he said. “It was in the middle of COVID. People thought we were nuts. They didn’t think we’d last six months.”

Remodeling took years, Kevin said. At that time, the windows were so bad they couldn’t see the marina.

Paintings of the kraken now line the walls, as does a rustic mirror, an old fireplace bookshelf holding spirits, Navy art and more. Much of the interior was a community effort, Megan said. They were gifted all kinds of décor, such as a wheel from a pirate ship in St. Augustine, Florida, a vintage Oak Harbor poster and kraken door handles.

Kraken’s Cove is open Thursday through Sunday, but they will soon expand with a Wednesday trivia night and a Sunday brunch buffet, Kevin said. They are pleased to say that as business has returned in a post-COVID world, the timing couldn’t have been better.

“We’ve got return business, and we’re thriving and innovating,” he said, “and we’re having a ball.”

Kraken's Cove, on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor, offers fine dining at family prices.  (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
Kraken's Cove, on Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor, opened in September of 2023.  (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
Co-owners Kevin (left) and Megan Collins (right) pose on the Kraken's Cove stage in Oak Harbor.  (Photo by Sam Fletcher)
Megan Collins, co-owner of Kraken's Cove in Oak Harbor, pours a drink at the bar.  (Photo by Sam Fletcher)