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Ivar’s restaurant is leaving Sea-Tac Airport for good

Ivar's at Seat-Tac Airport. (Jasom Lam, Flickr)

Northwest seafood restaurant Ivar’s is moving entirely out of Sea-Tac Airport after a second round of lease drama with the Port of Seattle.

“We’re disappointed,” said Ivar’s President Bob Donegan. “We have loved serving our loyal customers at Sea-Tac and we’re very sorry we won’t be able to continue. The Port has selected companies other than Ivar’s for leases at Sea-Tac, so we will be finishing our tenancy there early in 2019.”

RELATED: “Something fishy” at SeaTac Airport

After operating a central location at the airport, the port denied a new lease for Ivar’s at Sea-Tac in 2017. It was forced to operate out of a kiosk — intended to be temporary as the airport continued renovations. Ivar’s fans erupted with disapproval; the port received thousands of emails, phones calls, and social media posts over the issue (more than 31,000 according to Ivar’s). The restaurant is now  offering customers who contacted the port on their behalf a free cup of chowder.

Ivar’s is out

Details around why Ivar’s was outbid at the airport remained “fishy” last year, according to Donegan at the time. The restaurant did not rate as high as other businesses in a scoring system the port uses for leases. For example, it was unclear why the Port gave the 79-year-old Northwest icon a lower score in the “locally historic” category than a startup.

The port insisted that it was not kicking out Ivar’s. In fact, Port Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said in June: “I anticipate they will be here long-term.”

Ivar’s therefore agreed to submit bids in the next round of lease offerings. It placed two — one in the C Concourse, and another in the North Satellite expansion at SeaTac. According to the restaurant, the Port of Seattle has denied them again.

According to a statement from the company: “Well, Seattle travelers and Sea-Tac employees, it was fun and tasty while it lasted. After 12 years, Ivar’s will be out at Sea-Tac, the Seattle Port Commission announced today.”

The restaurant will continue to provide the USO’s lounge at the airport with free chowder until it permanently leaves early next year. In the meantime, Ivar’s will have a limited menu at the airport — the port has shut down quick-food service at the Central Terminal as renovations begin.

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