With wines and gourmet foods, fuel dock aims to be one-stop shop

Fuel dock manager Doug Hicks helps some customers on a recent Saturday morning.

Fuel dock manager Doug Hicks helps some customers on a recent Saturday morning.

When boaters stop by the fuel dock at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Marina, they can do more than just top off their tanks.

They can pick up some fresh meat to grill, peruse the featured wines of the month, choose from around 40 different beers and even pick up a souvenir t-shirt.

The marina has been adding features to its fuel dock store over the past year in an effort to make it a convenient stop that caters to what boaters want and need.

“The thing we worked on from the very beginning was that it’s not just another gas dock,” fuel dock manager Doug Hicks said.

To that end, the marina expanded its wine selection and launched a wine of the month club, featuring a white and a red wine each month at competitive prices, with a discount when six or more bottles are purchased. Currently featured is a St. Michelle merlot ($13.99 each for six or more) and a Joel Gott pinot gris ($10.09 for six or more). Choices are informed by feedback and requests from customers, Hicks said.

The marina's wine of the month club features a red and white each month.

The marina’s wine of the month club features a red and white each month.

“The markup is really minimal,” he said. “We don’t make any money from it, but it was such a hit when we started it last summer that it’s become a permanent fixture.”

Also last summer, the store began stocking items from A&J Meats and Seafood on Queen Anne, a longtime favorite among locals. On Fridays, Hicks picks up a selection of fresh steaks, pork chops, chicken breasts, ribs, Kobe-style beef burgers and the store’s own homemade bratwurst for boaters stopping by on their way out for the weekend. Customers have responded enthusiastically, he said.

“If you’ve got a display of fresh steaks and chops, people just turn onto it,” he said. “The meats are really good.”

Additionally, the store stocks canned seafood from California company Dave’s Gourmet Albacore, including items such as smoked albacore, garlic salmon and oysters.

Store manager Doug Hicks always has a pot of coffee on.

Store manager Doug Hicks always has a pot of coffee on.

Coffee is free at the fuel dock, as is use of the pumpout station installed in the fall of 2011, when the marina took over operation of the fuel dock from an outside contractor. Previously, boaters had to pay $4 to pump out.

Tenants and overnight guests get a $.10 per gallon discount on fuel and can borrow kayaks from the fuel dock at no cost. Visiting boaters who want to park their boats and eat at one of the two on-site restaurants can stop at the fuel dock and have staff find them a slip, at a cost of $5 for three hours.

Tenants can borrow a kayak at no cost.

Tenants can borrow a kayak at no cost.

The marina has also installed new hats on the pumps to protect them from weather. Cameras in the store tell fuel dock staff when boats are arriving, so there’s usually someone on the dock to greet them and help vessels land.

The changes, Hicks said, are intended to create a convenient shopping experience for customers and provide items they want.

“The whole fuel dock is really customer-driven,” he said. “We are open to suggestions.”

The fuel dock and store are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day starting in March, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday and 8 am. to 6 p.m. all other days starting in May.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the fuel discount given to marina tenants and guests. The discount is $.10 per gallon.

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