by: Graham Johnson Updated:
SEATAC, Wash. - Ivar's is legendary for fish, chowder and publicity.
On Tuesday, the company sent workers, and a dancing clam, to protest outside a Port of Seattle commission meeting.
Ivar's is rallying customer support after it lost a bid for a new lease at Sea-Tac Airport.
“Doing away with Ivar's at the airport would be kind of like asking the fishmongers at Pike Place Market to throw Atlantic salmon," said Steve Sego, a customer who testified at the port commission meeting.
“We have seen more than 8,000 people call, write or email the commission asking them to keep Ivar's at Sea-Tac," said Ivar's president, Bob Donegan.
Donegan criticized the selection process, saying "the interview process was a sham."
He also said Ivar's was told it wouldn't get a new lease even before competitors were interviewed.
Port officials say celebrity chef Kathy Casey scored higher in her proposal for Ivar's space.
She plans to open Lucky Louie Alaska Fish Shop at the airport.
"Our menu is classic Northwest-inspired and supported with local businesses and products," Casey told commissioners.
The port calls the process fair and transparent, with opportunities for small businesses and those owned by women and minorities.
Local companies such as Bianca Szyperski's Jujubeet will come to Sea-Tac, partnering with big airport concession operators.
"We are super, super stoked about it," Szyperski said.
Port commissioners did not appear eager to reopen the bids.
A port lawyer said it would be illegal to grant preference to locally owned companies.
But the port is working on ways to more emphasize what it calls a "Northwest sense of place" in the next round of airport concessions, when Ivar's has the option of competing again.
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