Business along the Chiniak Highway
seems grim. With gas prices on the rise, the Kodiak Island Winery forced out of
business and the Roads End Restaurant closed down for second summer in a row,
what attractions are left to draw people to the end of the road? Mary Donaldson
has this report.
Island Winery used to be in business about 40 miles from the city of Kodiak in Chiniak, but
recently had to shut its doors due to a zoning issue with the borough. The
Road’s End Restaurant, a few miles down the road, also shut its doors over a
year ago after the owners passed away. With two of the few businesses on the Chiniak Highway closed,
what is business like for the ones still open, especially with the rise in gas
The Kalsin Bay Inn, about 19 miles
from town, has been run and operated by the Sargent Family for 35 years. For
the past three years, Wayne Sargent has been running the Inn.
He says business was good his first year, but that the last two years he has seen
a dramatic drop in customers. He says he has thought of creative ways to attract
business so far out the road:
(Sargent 1 :16s “…the discount cards.”)
He says he
has had return customers every year from out of state, mostly large groups of
fishermen. However, the new luggage limits on Alaska Airlines is now affecting
their decisions to make the trip to Alaska.
(Sargent 2 :48 “…with your clothes and your fishing
Mile 41 of
the Chiniak Highway
is the Clay Creek Pottery store, owned by Susan Baker. She has had her doors
open for four years, and that her busy months are in the summers and fall, when
the roads are nicer to drive on. She says whether business volume is high or
low, she will keep operating her business because it is what she loves. She
says she will even be upgrading her small shop to a larger building on her
(Baker 1 :17s “…of what I have now.”)
There will be more business
development along the Chiniak
Highway. The property at the intersection with Pasagshak Road was
bought recently by Fred and Mary Barber. They have plans to develop the
property for a small bar and restaurant with guest cabins. Fred says that he
plans on opening what they will call the Old’s River Inn on the land.
(Barber 1 :21s “…the
bar and restaurant.”)
The Road’s End Restaurant that
closed nearly two-years-ago was purchased by Norm and Janice Botz, who were
friends with its previous owners. The Botz’s hope to have the restaurant open
by July, and plan to build a lodge nearby in the future.
I’m Mary Donaldson.