Winter Storm Riley Was Final Straw for Beloved Massachusetts Clam Shack

Sean Breslin
Published: March 6, 2018

Liam's at Nauset Beach is seen at the edge of an eroded coastline in Orleans, Massachusetts, on Monday, March 5, 2018.
(Twitter/Perry Russom)

A popular fried clam shack that has been a mainstay along Nauset Beach in Orleans, Massachusetts, will soon be demolished after Winter Storm Riley ate up the shoreline and left the structure on the brink of collapse.

Liam's fell victim to beach erosion during the powerful nor'easter, ending a nearly three-decade run of business that began under its current ownership in 1990. The Orleans Board of Selectmen will vote Wednesday on whether or not the beloved Liam's will be torn down, the Cape Codder reported, but the snack shack's owner believes it'll only be a matter of time before it's gone – claimed by either a bulldozer or the sea.

"Mother Nature may have something else in store," owner John Ohman told the Boston Globe. "Literally, the sand is eating under the foundation right now. It's in danger of falling into the ocean."

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An image taken on Monday, March 5, 2018 shows how close Liam's currently sits to the eroded coast.
(Twitter/Perry Russom)

Riley washed out about 35 feet of beach and also began to claim the dune on which Liam's rests, and as the storm subsided, Ohman found the building hanging on the edge of a cliff, the Cape Codder also said. A video shared on Facebook by the Orleans Police Department showed the clam shack sitting near the edge of the eroded dune on Saturday, with several high tides yet to come.

Before it was purchased by Ohman, the building, which dates back to the early 1950s, was known as Philbrick’s Snack Shack, the Globe also said. Ohman renamed it for his son, Liam, when he purchased the shack 28 years ago.

Since 1990, the coastline has eroded dramatically, and Ohman's belief in the power of sea level rise meant he knew this day would come. Ohman said he'll miss the shack, but he'll miss his employees more.

"You become part of their life," Ohman told the Globe. "One of my employees was there yesterday crying. It was her first and only job before she became a school teacher. She was with her daughter, and she said she wanted her daughter to work there, too."

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