Carlos and Lori Villarreal had planned to retire in Ocean Shores when they moved from Austin, Texas, to a house across Marine View Drive from the sprouting Oyhut Bay development.
First introduced to the area when Carlos was working at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the couple also operated restaurants in Lake Chelan and Salem, while settling in Austin as a senior care executive (vice president of dining) for 17 years.
Healthy, good food is something the Villarreals specialize in, and that’s why retirement was short-lived when it was announced that Oyhut Bay was seeking to open the first fresh market at the south end of the Ocean Shores peninsula, and the first commercial store there in decades.
“We’re very excited to be here, and we have had a very warm reception,” Carlos said last week during a tour of the new Oyhut Bay Fresh Market. Located just off the main entrance from Marine View Drive, the market carries a number of local products — such as coffee from Ocean Beach Roasters, teas from the Fancy Accent Tea Company of Westport, and sweet treats from Cakecakes bakery in Aberdeen — organic fruits and vegetables, baked goods, even locally produced jams and fresh flowers. It has a full walk-in cooler stocked with beverages, and a spacious shopping area filled with staples and necessities.
Pat Brunstad, Oyhut Bay project manager, said the original plans called for an 11,000-square foot grocery, but that seemed too big for the area. “Carlos and Lori came in just looking for an opportunity, and it’s probably been a year since we first started talking,” Brunstad said. “We talked conceptually about a restaurant and a coffee shop, and then the idea of the market came up, and light bulbs went on.”
“It was an evolution of discussions and ideas going back and forth, and we knew we needed something at this end — something for Oyhut Bay, but more importantly for the south end of Ocean Shores, said Brunstad. “We know that Oyhut Bay on its own can’t support that, but we do know there is a whole ton of people at the south end of Ocean Shores, which is probably one of the highest growth areas of Ocean Shores.”
Brunstad calls the market Phase 1 of the retail development there, with plenty of room to grow.
“The intent is to keep it open and uncongested,” Carols said, noting they have an option to expand into an adjacent area where they may eventually have events such as wine and cheese tasting demonstrations or a farmers’ market. “We want to make people feel comfortable and warm.”
Carlos constructed the wooden signs from pallets and crates that contained the equipment for the store, and his goal is to offer a sustainable, ecologically conscious market atmosphere.
“A lot of people have come by and are telling us that this is what was really needed out here,” Carlos said. “We are trying to provide them the things they need. We’re also using as many local vendors as we can to incorporate local flavor in our market.”
Other developments in the retail area include the pending move of Namaste to Oyhut Bay, with a new massage room and potential for a garden resting area out back; also, discussions are ongoing about a full-time bike shop on site, with also a focus on water sports.