Gig Harbor’s Ocean5: Because Fun is Something We Don’t Outgrow

by Nancy Zaffaro

Ocean5, Gig Harbor Washington’s new entertainment center, manages to be both family-friendly and a happening place. It’s 57,000 square feet of great food, drink and game play with a grown-up and eco-friendly commitment to design and décor. Ocean5 is a great place for kids, for date nights, for groups of friends, and for parties and events up to 400 people. And Ocean5’s farm-fresh restaurant, Table 47, is a great place to enjoy drinks and a meal—even for those not game to game.

Fun is not something we outgrow, so take a look!


(Photo courtesy Ocean5)

Gig Harbor

Why Gig Harbor? This scenic town already draws visitors from throughout the South (Puget) Sound, from Seattle, Tacoma, and beyond, most by crossing the impressive Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Gig Harbor offers great food and drink, year-round festivals and outdoor and waterfront opportunities.

When entrepreneurship works, it combines serving an existing need with an innovative, forward thinking idea. Long-time Gig Harbor resident and former CEO of Starbucks, Troy Alstead realized his ambitious plan to open Ocean5 that was ten years in the making. As owner and founder, his vision was clear—to provide Gig Harbor with a gathering spot, while upholding a commitment to a low-impact building and business.

Ocean5 Gig Harbor

Scenic Gig Harbor

Ocean5: A Ten Year Vision in the Making

At the opening event, Troy Alstead said, “I’ve always had a passion for the ocean. And there’s that layer beneath, how the five oceans are linked. The whole purpose of Ocean5 is about connection. I want a place where people can be comfortable if they’re from here or from out of town. Families can be here, we can hold wedding rehearsals and other events. This is a place that will be a connection to the community. People in this community want more of that.”

“We’re committed to working to save our oceans. How can one little business save the oceans? Well, maybe we can help. We hope to inspire action. And we know we need to reduce plastic consumption and contamination of our oceans. We hope to make a small impact here. We’ll work with educational programs and with the local schools. We may not be able to solve all problems, but we can make a difference,” he said.


Owner and founder, Troy Alstead (c) with Tomoko Senechal and Aaron Shook

It’s Game Time

Forget tokens and paper tickets. At Ocean5, a bracelet tracks your arcade and laser tag game play—and keeps track of your winning points. Redeem the points at the end of your play or bank them for next time.

The Arcade

The Arcade has more than 50 games to choose from. I’ve no problem admitting this—I will never see my name ranking as a top player in any arcade game—EVER. But I can laugh and be laughed at! I had a fabulous time tossing basketballs, riding a motorcycle, trying one one of those gripper-grabber games, and playing skeeball.


Game prizes, by the way, have been selected with some thought to being eco-friendly items, with consideration of minimizing over-packaging.

10-Pin and Duckpin Bowling

There are 10 regular 10-pin bowling lanes and newer to the West Coast, 12 duckpin lanes. Lanes have flexible configurations and some can be walled off for privacy and private events.

If you haven’t tried duckpin bowling before, this is the place to give it a roll. I’ve tried my hand at 5-pin bowling in Canada. Duckpin is somewhat similar. The balls and pins are smaller and lighter than regular balls and there are no finger holes.

The rules are a little different, but don’t think duckpin bowling is easier. While there are some 50,000 perfect 10-pin bowling games, there are no recorded perfect duckpin games. It’s great fun!


Laser Tag

My cohorts and I ended our visit on an energetic high-note with a couple of games of Lasertron laser tag. Select your team, don your armor vest and get ready to hoist that laser gun and run.

Geared up and wearing my Ocean5 bracelet and FitBit, I was ready to put on some steps. And maybe that’s my game, because I scored in the middle of the roster rather than dead last!


Locally Sourced, Sustainable, and Delicious Dining

All that fun is going to give you an appetite, and Ocean5 gives you a choice of venues to stop for a bite or a full meal. If you’re looking to really relax and dine, head over to Table 47, Ocean5’s destination restaurant. Food can also be ordered from the Lane Menu and delivered to the pub, the bowling alley or any of the many comfortable lounge areas in the complex.

All food is made in-house and from scratch. The food is all about fresh, locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. You’ll have no trouble finding fresh vegetarian and gluten-free options.


Chef Ian Wingate

Chef Ian Wingate didn’t go to the big supply companies or even only attend local farmer’s markets—he and a second chef got in the car and clocked some 15,000 miles on the road meeting as many local farmers and purveyors as they could. Chef Ian sought out others who also were committed to sustainability. He got to know the people who grow the food, and he buys most of the ingredients directly from the source.

Ocean5 General Manager Aaron Shook has been in the restaurant business for 25 years. He adds, “In most restaurants, 95% of products are ordered by catalog. In our commitment to really support local sources, we work on a personal level with the farmers. We’ll buy what’s available seasonally. We can also say we want something particular, and they can grow it for us the following season. But it will depend ultimately on what they have for us.”

Wingate agrees with an infectious smile “I can’t really say our menu is this or that—we want the farmers to determine what the menu is.”

Destination Dining At Ocean5’s Table 47 Restaurant

Table 47 references the region’s latitude location in the 47th Parallel. Sit indoors or outside, where the patio is geothermally heated. There’s a full menu of delicious items to share, salads, entrees and desserts. (I especially enjoyed the albacore tuna crudo, with fried spring onion, microgreens, pickled chilis, orange chili aioli and a spicy poke sauce appetizer.)

My grass-fed bistro steak with wild mushrooms was cooked perfectly and served with steak frites and flavorful veggies. It’s the Pacific Northwest, so you know the seafood is going to be fabulous. Their line-caught wild Coho salmon was served grilled, with butternut squash gnocchi, squash buerre blanc, a huckleberry gastrique and again, fresh farm veggies.

ocean5   ocean5

Table 47’s menu lists the farms they’re working with at the time. Forty beers and wine are available on tap. (Kegs of wine are far more eco-friendly than individual bottles.)

The Lane Menu

The Lane Menu offers casual but updated and fresh items like smoked BBQ brisket nachos, or double pork belly fries, as well as salads, flatbreads, burgers, and sandwiches. There’s the same commitment to fresh, quality ingredients you’ll fine at Table 47.


Coffee and a fresh pastry? Stop by T47 Coffee Lounge.


Geothermal What? And More Innovative Design

The building of Ocean5 was no small undertaking and is perhaps even larger in scope and vision than its spacious size. As of this writing, the building is awaiting LEED certification, but I’ve no doubt it will be awarded. The innovative design is impressive.

The building is heated and cooled with its own geothermal energy system. The network includes three miles of wells beneath the parking lot. LED lighting is installed throughout. The building was designed to make maximum use of natural light and solar tubes. The interior alder wood was all sourced within 100 miles of the Ocean5, reducing transportation costs and keeping the money within the community. Carpet tiles were made from recycled commercial fishing nets. Dining tables are made from reclaimed wood. Used paper towels feed the worm farm out back.) Even the gorgeous chandelier in the entry is created from discarded materials.

While the structure is a testimony to forward thinking environmental design, it’s also a great piece of interior design. It’s truly lovely, comfortable and welcoming.

A Draw to Gig Harbor

Ocean5 makes a great evening out for both visitors and Gig Harbor residents. Visitors will enjoy the experience while in the area, while even the healthiest communities need a place like Ocean5; there really is something for everyone here.

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-All photos by Nancy Zaffaro, except as credited. Cover photo courtesy Ocean5.

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Barb May 18, 2018 - 12:58 pm

It’s been years since I spent time in Gig Harbor. I’d love to revisit.
Great post!

Nancy Zaffaro May 18, 2018 - 1:04 pm

I hope you get the chance, Barb! On this trip, I explored the Finholm District, the Harbor History Museum, the Cushman Trail, Heritage Distillery, and some other great restaurants. There’s a lot to see. I really think Ocean5 adds a lot to the area! Thanks so much!


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