At long last, Colman Dock finds salvation

Here’s two concepts you don’t usually see in

the same sentence:

“Colman Dock” and “comfort.”

Historically, time spent waiting at the Seattle end of

“our” ferry run has been borderline miserable, hours wasted cursing one’s bad luck, poor time management, and/or

earlier failure to pick up a schedule by which to time the return trip. The venerable facility has been one step – a very small step at that – above a Greyhound bus terminal, a joyless expanse of rump-rending institutional seating, loathsome vending machines and foul smells. (Let’s not get started on the restrooms.) Only the presence of coin-operated televisions would have made the whole experience complete.

So we would be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to hail the transformation that’s taken place at yonder terminal, as its months-long renovation wraps up. Truly, finding ourselves stuck at Colman Dock last week after an evening of last-minute holiday shopping, we observed a phenomenon once unimaginable there: life.

Christmas revelers, late-hour commuters and bleary-eyed travelers with wheeled luggage in tow converged in the new airport-style concourse, and for a change actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. Enthusiastic concessionaires tempted passersby with a variety of tasty-looking, freshly prepared foods; many folks tried out the new eateries, enjoying the fare at cafe seating arrayed in the center of the corridor.

While we were present, Alaska Gourmet Subs owner Andy Moussouras seemed intent on winning an award for “World’s Most Gregarious Proprietor”; he spent more time in front of the counter than behind it, working the room to greet potential customers and beckon them over for a sample. When a small oversight on his menu was pointed out – hot chocolate would be nice on such a chilly December evening, one Bainbridge woman suggested – he whipped up a batch from stock he’d purchased for his own staff, then hand-delivered steaming cups to patrons sitting across the terminal. That is fine service.

(There was even satisfaction for folks who ventured into the

restrooms, too long an experience best avoided; thanks to the renovation, those facilities have been elevated well above the accommodations of the typical medieval castle.)

In short, Colman Dock is suddenly a decent place to pass an hour waiting for the boat homeward. To Washington State Ferries, we should all say: thank you.

Elsewhere in this issue, various players weigh in on the prospects for restoring galley service aboard the ferries, absent for the past 364 days. While the restoration of lost jobs is certainly a worthwhile goal, we have to wonder if the service itself is really needed anymore – particularly when, as was suggested earlier this year, a new eatery may soon appear in the Winslow terminal building as well. The five vendors at Colman Dock – World Wrapps, Cafe Appassionato, Alaska’s Gourmet Subs, and the forthcoming Commuter Comforts Espresso Caffe and (our favorite) Matt’s Famous Chili Dogs – are already offering a range of fare for commuters that was unimaginable even a year ago.

The ferry system might give their dockside vendors some time to prove themselves before introducing new competition on the ferry itself. We suspect that they’ll have a dedicated

clientele in no time at all.

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