Redeveloping and running a restaurant wasn’t something Weston Roberts aimed to do until he moved to the coast. After graduating from Oregon State, Weston worked in Portland as a real estate appraiser in the public sector. He went on to a commercial development firm to work in pre-construction management, as well as investing in real estate himself.
When he moved to Pacific County, Weston ended up on the other side of real estate: becoming a top-selling real estate broker, managing vacation rentals, and assuming the role of CEO of LBP Enterprises.
LBP Enterprises has six retail shops and a restaurant under its umbrella. Weston has since taken on a redevelopment project of the restaurant, Castaways Seafood Grille, and is applying his background in construction to both renovate the restaurant and redesign it to showcase its unique local history.
To decide what Castaways should become, Weston did some digging into what it’s been. The building has seen many changes over the years, housing a captain’s bar, a hotel, and a handful of restaurants. Each iteration with its own set of stories. But throughout its history, the location has been a place for locals and travelers to gather, have a drink, and enjoy a plate of seafood fresh from the dock.
We asked Weston about his vision for the restaurant, as well as what has made it a success in the past. Here’s what he shared with us:
Why did you choose to start a business in Pacific County?
I had family living here in Long Beach.
My two uncles actually started these businesses. But my Uncle Chris passed away in 2018, and then my Uncle Russell moved to Arizona for the last few years. So I moved here and I dove into the businesses, going from real estate appraisal and development to real estate sales, and took over their retail stores. I didn’t have a background in retail at all, or in restaurants.
Castaways was a really successful restaurant. We had a cool atmosphere, great food, incredible workers, and an incredible restaurant manager, Sharon. But the branding felt off to me. It was kind of a tropical/tiki theme originally, but we had so much unique history in Long Beach. And in this building specifically. I really wanted to reintegrate that into our atmosphere and branding.
So my vision was first to learn about what that building used to be.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Castaways used to belong to a woman named Mary Lou, until my uncle bought it about 12 years ago.
It was originally the Pacific Hotel, and there are a lot of fun rumors about that era. For example, we found a postcard from a fisherman that spoke of it being a House of Ill-Repute–for lack of better words.
A lot of fishermen and sea captains used to come to Long Beach– and still do. What’s now Castaways was once a captain’s bar of sorts, even when it was the Pacific Hotel. Once it was even a Marsh’s Cafe.
I looked at all this history, and I thought about what I could do to commemorate this vintage hotel and this old fishermen’s bar. That’s what I hope will come through with this rebranding.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I think it’s satisfying when I see people that work for us do well.
Some people have worked this job since they were 15 years old, then they’ll go off and start something new. Recently, one of our employees started her own business doing online retail sales and seeing that was probably one of my happiest moments.
It’s sad to lose people, but seeing people go on and learn from their experiences here is cool.
What was your mission when you started your business?
I wanted to give locals a cool new place that still felt like theirs.
We’re right on the main drag, which is a big tourist area. But I want the people that live here to feel like this is their area too, to have a cool downtown where they can hang out whether it’s summertime or the offseason.
And the tourists, when they come in, will get to learn and see a little piece of our incredible Long Beach Peninsula history.
How do you view your role in the community?
I believe I have a responsibility to learn the history of wherever I’m at, and I think that’s one of my roles here for as long as I’m a part of this incredible coastal community. I’m only 30, but the older I get the more history fascinates me and the more value it holds.
I’ve joined The Friends of the Columbia River Gateway Lighthouse Board, which funded the North Head Lighthouse remodel. And in many of the groups I’ve joined, I’m usually the youngest person there. So I feel like it’s a personal responsibility to attend and be a part of these things, and to get other young people involved. Because many integral people in this community are in their 70s and 80s; they won’t be around forever. There’s so much to learn from them and so little time.
I believe in getting involved in your community. I go to the merchant’s meetings and try to meet all the other business owners–to welcome, encourage, and support new businesses. I see other business owners as allies and not competition. After all, they’re providing more options. I live and play here too.
I enjoy going to other restaurants. I’m friends with many of the other restaurant/business owners, we have mutual camaraderie, and I want to encourage new businesses to come in and get involved.
If you had to do it all again, is there anything you’d do differently?
No. That’s not to say I did everything perfectly. Rather, I had a lot of learning experiences. And I’m really excited about where I’m at and where I’m going. I love the people I work with; They’re my family now.
I think if I’m coming to work and I’m enthusiastic and happy then there’s nothing I would change.
If you had one piece of advice to offer someone starting a business in Pacific County, what would it be?
Get involved with the community. People here are hugely supportive of new businesses, especially when the owners clearly care about what they’re doing.
And don’t overlook this place. I think for some people it takes time to realize all the opportunities out here. Especially for young people. Whether it’s real estate, entrepreneurship, etc., there’s tons of opportunity, and not many young people take advantage of it.
For any aspiring business owner in Pacific County, here are a few key takeaways from Weston’s experience:
Learn the history of your establishment; tell its story.
- Create space for locals, and for tourists to enjoy the local flavor.
- Learn from the older population. There’s a lot of wisdom and history to pass down.
- Every mistake is a learning experience and can lead to where you want to be.
- Take advantage of the area’s opportunity and get involved.