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Ivar’s Loses Its Airport Lease In Dining Shuffle

But the local icon is fighting to stay at Sea-Tac

Robert Karma/Flickr

Amid the celebratory fervor that Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will soon be home to a slew of exciting new dining options — including Portland’s famous Salt and Straw ice cream — came news that Ivar’s Fish Bar is losing its lease in the central terminal.

Now Ivar’s, one of Eater’s recommended stops for airport dining, is attempting to appeal the Port of Seattle’s decision not to renew the lease, and has launched an online campaign called Keep Ivar’s at Sea-Tac that allows fans to send a form letter to port commissioners decrying the decision. So far, the petition has nearly 7,000 signers.

“Ivar’s Fish Bar is one of the most popular airport restaurants in the United States,” said Ivar’s president, Bob Donegan, in a release. “Due to our popularity, the rate of rent Ivar’s pays the Port has more than doubled. In fact, we’ve generated over $5 million dollars for the Port over the 12 years of our operation.”

Tomorrow at 1 p.m., the port commission is holding a meeting that includes in its agenda a period of public testimony. Ivar’s is encouraging fans to turn out for that meeting to express their displeasure with the Port’s decision not to renew.

Eater spoke with airport representatives who clarified that, in addition to a number of other considerations, the port’s application process favors small, local businesses, while Ivar’s operates 26 locations.

Taking Ivar’s place will be Lucky Louie Alaska Fish Shop, which will be operated by chef Kathy Casey of Dish D’Lish. Coincidentally, Dish D’Lish’s lease, like Ivar’s, is not going to be renewed. Also, like Ivar’s, Dish D’Lish can compete for a new space elsewhere in the airport.

Among the other newcomers headed to the airport are Li’l Woody’s, Good Bar, Macrina Bakery, and Cafe Ladro. The full list is available here. The number of dining options will swell from 86 to 135 when all is said and done, though construction and contract negotiation timelines put the initial arrivals out by a year or more.

Eater will provide updates if any significant developments occur after the Port’s meeting tomorrow.