After 26 years of serving seafood near the Poulsbo waterfront, JJ’s Fish House recently closed its doors.
“My health isn’t what it should be, and I’m getting a little older. I don’t have the energy. JJ’s in particular requires a lot of energy; that’s the way we run it. The whole atmosphere in the restaurant business has changed so much in the last three or four years. I just found myself not finding the joy there,” owner Jeff Eagleson said, adding that staffing was also an issue during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A few weeks ago, Eagleson said the fire suppression system went off randomly during the evening. “I thought to myself, ‘Boy, that’s kind of a sign isn’t it?’ I got to get out at some point so let’s do it now,” he said.
Since announcing the closure on Facebook a few weeks ago, Eagleson said people still came in while he was cleaning up and were saddened by the announcement. “I know families that have been coming in forever with their kids,” he said. “Now they’re thirty and bringing their own kids in. It’s been a generational experience for me, and it’s been really rewarding.”
Over the years, JJ’s became known for its high-quality seafood dishes such as fish & chips, crab cakes and chowder. Eagleson said he used to buy thousands of pounds of cod upfront from fishermen so he didn’t have to worry about fluctuating prices down the line. “I’m proud of all of it. We shop around,” he said.
Eagleson said one of the biggest reasons JJ’s stayed around for so long was striving for excellence in all aspects of the restaurant. “In the restaurant business, the biggest temptation is mediocrity,” he said. “It’s so easy just to be mediocre, a lot of people do that. I take pride in the fact that over the years I bought the freshest and best products. We always wanted to be the best, in terms of the food on the plate and service to the customer.”
Eagleson is looking to sell the business but his family will still own the property. He expects that whoever buys it will keep it a fish house.
“I told my kids I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve enjoyed every moment of going up to the restaurant,” he said, thanking the community for its support over the years.