If one were to pinpoint the “boon” in Fox Island’s economy, it would be the day, in 1954, when the bridge connecting it with the mainland was completed. Not only did the structure allow the small island’s 120 residents easy access to businesses, schools, and medical facilities; it buoyed the island’s real estate market as well.

Located five miles from Gig Harbor, Fox Island today has an abundance of highly desirable waterfront property, and stands as a wealthy exurb of Tacoma, with a population of 3,850. The secluded wooded area and great views explain the competitive pricing of island real estate, with the average cost of homes currently listed as being $657,000.

The average household income on Fox Island is approximately $128,897. A majority of residents commute to work in the larger surrounding cities, such as Gig Harbor, Tacoma, and Seattle, in industries such as healthcare and social assistance (199 people); educational services (147 people); and professional, scientific, and technical services (129 people).

Since the island itself is basically a bedroom community, there isn’t much in terms of local commerce. In fact, Fox Island doesn’t have a proper town center. Instead, there’s one family-owned gas station/convenience store with a deli and drive-thru espresso stand across from the town history museum. But within this market is a hidden gem that nonresidents wouldn’t believe: a beautifully landscaped beer garden.

Photo by Andre Herzog

At the far-right corner of Fox Island Grocery & Deli, there’s a large door shaped like a wine barrel with a playful sign that reads “Zog’s Pub.” Through the door is a full-service restaurant with a spacious garden patio equipped with fire pits, a center waterfall, luscious greenery, and a gazebo for live music and entertainment.

“It’s the only bar on Fox Island,” owner Andrew Herzog said. In 2014, Herzog and his father, Dwayne, were inspired to give a gift to the island in the form of a place to meet and gather. “A lot of times out here, you don’t know your neighbors. And it can be hard to meet people, especially if you’re new,” Herzog said.

For the past five years, Zog’s Pub has been Fox Island’s best-kept secret. But as of late, word is spreading, and the bar has been attracting patrons from Gig Harbor to Port Orchard and Tacoma. “You see a lot of newer faces that you’ve never seen before,” Herzog said. “It keeps growing year after year. We didn’t do any real advertising for it, mostly just word of mouth and Facebook, but people keep finding out about it.”

Perhaps Herzog’s family passion project will be the beginning of a transformation for Fox Island, expanding its identity from a quiet residential island to a lively place to live and work. Only time will tell, but for now, Herzog is giving those tired commuters a place to knock back a cold one.