The Dockside Cafe
Craig, Alaska – My Alaska life included many family and friend gatherings at the Dockside Cafe, a little cabin-like restaurant in Craig, Alaska. It is the epitome of rural Alaska dining. There were times this little building could not squeeze another body inside and other days when I sat nearly alone in the 10-table, four-bar stool rustic cafe. I’ve blown in through these doors freezing, fought to open them in the wind, and strolled through on beautiful fall days.
Pancakes, eggs, sandwiches of all kinds, and even quality dinner choices are on the menu of this 7 am – 7 pm hot spot. My favorite item on the menu is their tasty strawberry milkshake—you won’t find a better one anywhere. Local artists hang their work for sale on the walls, which tempts me into a spur-of-the-moment purchase while the view of stormy weather on the water, wildlife, and people watching entertains me.
When my mother visited a few times over the years, we always enjoyed hot cocoa smothered in whipped cream, drizzled in chocolate syrup with bright sprinkled sugar at Dockside Cafe or Ruth Ann’s Restaurant down the street. My mom took photos of this area that hung in her living room for the rest of her life. Times change. My mother passed away years ago, and Ruth Ann’s Restaurant burned down in 2015, leaving only the Dockside on the waterfront for island residents.
My son and his family met me for breakfast at the Dockside Cafe the day before I moved away. Leaving them behind for a new life after two decades of living my Alaska life was difficult.
Now, for the rest of the story.
Three years later, I said my last goodbye to my good friend, Bob Robertson, at the Dockside Cafe. We didn’t know it would be our final farewell. In 1995, Bob hired me for my first teaching position in the Aleutians. On Prince of Wales Island, our professional relationship turned into a friendship between his family and mine. Our boys looked forward to weekend sleepovers. Bob’s wife Neva and I sewed together on Saturdays in Dina Merchant’s garage. At times, we had holiday meals together—like most people, we had no other family in the area.
We visited about the past over breakfast. Stories from the Aleutians, reminiscing trips on the ferry with our boys when they were young, “do you remember this” and “do you remember that” crisscrossed the table. When it was time for Bob and Neva to go, I felt prompted to snap their photo, but I didn’t. Bob seemed to have aged many years since I saw him last. As I watched him walk gingerly to the door, I wondered if I would ever see him again. He passed away suddenly one month later. I was grateful to have had one last meal with them.