SEASIDE SPOTLIGHT: Our latest profile in a series focused on the behind-the-scenes movers who make Seaside the unique destination it is today. Next. Previously.
Doug Wiese and his son Carnegie know a great bowl of clam chowder. It’s the signature dish at their family-run restaurant, Dooger’s Seafood & Grill, a classic spot in Seaside. Light and creamy, delicately briny, and seasoned with a secret blend of family spices, the chowder is always packed with fresh clams.
The casual coastal hub first opened in 1983 — a partnership between Doug and his mother, Mary Wiese — and was like home to the new co-owner, Carnegie Wiese. “I pretty much grew up in the kitchen,” he says. As a teen, he worked his way through all the facets of the business from busing tables to cooking on the line — a few times right alongside his father.
Outside the restaurant, he still pursues the same outdoor adventures he did as a teen growing up in Seaside, catching waves on his surfboard and golfing with his father at the Astoria Golf and Country Club. A strong connection to this small and devoted community is ultimately what brought Carnegie back after studying at the University of Oregon and a stint in New Zealand.
“I was at a crossroads and debating between graduate school or returning to Seaside to take over something that I really care about,” he says. He chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and is now a third-generation restaurateur, spearheading Dooger’s highly anticipated expansion.
Family Recipes for Comfort Fare
The seafood-driven menu at Dooger’s remains focused on tried-and-true comfort fare that’s been passed down through three generations, like steamed whole Dungeness crab or platters of lightly fried oysters, scallops, calamari and prawns. Crab cakes topped with hollandaise sauce and a fresh crab leg are another favorite. “We cook the same recipes that my grandma and dad created 40 years ago,” says Carnegie. “It’s a place of nostalgia for so many people.”
If you’re searching for locally foraged razor clams, you’ve come to the right place. “We also make some of the best pan-fried razor clams you’ll have anywhere,” says Carnegie. One of his grandmother’s favorite local foods to eat, the large surf clams are commonly found at low tide and are considered an Oregon Coast delicacy. “There’s something about being able to dig your own food right where you live,” Carnegie says. “And she really perfected the dish.”
Local Service, Local Seafood
The service ethic and sense of community run deep at Dooger’s. The family takes pride in what Carnegie calls “good, kind service.” In fact, more than half of the cooks have been with the restaurant for over 20 years, and many of the servers have worked at Dooger’s for over 30 years. They’re all considered family to Carnegie. The Wieses also rely on local sources for their seafood, partnering with Northwest Wild Foods, Bell Buoy and Ocean Beauty, just to name a few.
Growth and Expansion for Dooger’s
One of the unexpected outputs from the pandemic was the restaurant’s impromptu growth. When indoor dining closed and the state permitted restaurants to serve in outdoor areas, Carnegie immediately turned the parking lot into an open-air dining space. “We added nine picnic tables along with a fire pit,” he says.
It was then he realized coastal diners will eat outside in any weather. The tables were always bustling — through rain, sleet and snow. He also discovered that visitors will flock wherever they can bring their dogs. “There were times we had almost 18 dogs on the patio, two per table,” he says.
The alfresco dining center proved a win through the seasons and over the past two years, so the Wieses wanted to create a permanent outdoor space. The vision is an extension of the restaurant that will take on more of a bar vibe, serving appetizers and daily specials like halibut ceviche and poke bowls.
In the works is a two-story addition to the restaurant that will include a lower level with indoor and outdoor seating. Expansive garage-style doors will roll up on fair-weather days, bringing sunshine and sea breezes indoors. The family also plans to add a covered upper deck providing ocean views.
“Many people head to the Coast during the wintertime for storm watching,” says Carnegie. “The upper deck will be a great spot to bundle up and watch the ocean waves.” The projected opening date is February 2023, which is a landmark year and month for Dooger’s, as the restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Look for it this winter, and join the locals eating Dooger’s famous chowder, rain or shine.