A cafe owner who served OceanGate workers and its CEO Stockton Rush says locals are ‘disheartened’ that the sub become an internet meme

A cafe owner who served OceanGate workers and its CEO Stockton Rush says locals are ‘disheartened’ that the sub become an internet meme

By: Posted: June 23, 2023

A side view of the Titan submersible in water.
A cafe owner who served Stockton Rush and other OceanGate workers says locals are ‘disheartened’ that the Titan became a meme on the internet.

  • Corie Reed says OceanGate staff are some of her regulars at the coffee shop, Seas the Day Cafe.
  • Reed says the town was “very disheartened” by internet memes about the Titan submersible.
  • On Thursday, OceanGate said the passengers on the trip to the Titanic have “sadly been lost.”

Corie Reed said she bought Seas the Day Cafe, a coffee shop that shares a building with OceanGate, over a year ago. Since then, she said, the coffee shop has become something of a popular destination for staff at the submersible company.

Reed told Insider that she’s also served OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush — one of the five people believed to have died in a “catastrophic implosion” aboard the Titan submersible — several times over the past year. And many of her regular customers are OceanGate staffers.

The ocean-tourism company found itself at the center of a global news event after the company’s submersible went missing on Sunday during an expedition to the Titanic shipwreck. The craft lost communication with its surface vessel two hours into its descent. Over the past week, search teams have scoured the area near the Titanic shipwreck in an attempt to find the submersible.

Five people, including a 19-year-old boy, were on board. 

On Thursday, it was reported that debris had been discovered near the site of the Titanic that the US Coast Guard said was from the ship. OceanGate told press that it believes the passengers have “sadly been lost.”

“When I first heard about it, it was one of my employees who told me. A regular had seen it on the news,” Reed said of the news on Sunday night that OceanGate’s Titan submersible had gone missing. “Our first reaction was panic, we started texting people we knew to see who was on it because we knew so many of them.”

Reed said that her cafe has gotten more traffic from reporters over the past week and locals have been abuzz with “rumors” about the submersible, but the town is hurting. The Port is well integrated with the town, supporting more than 40,000 jobs in the surrounding area and the OceanGate workers are a large part of Reed’s clientele, as well as the town itself. The company employed about 47 people, according to April data from Pitchbook.

“I went into the cafe this morning and the atmosphere was very downtrodden,” Reed said. “It’s been the only topic of discussion for the last few days and a lot of regulars are very disheartened by all the memes and jokes and things that are going around because these are people we know and talk to everyday.”

“There are a lot of jokes about them being millionaires, but they’re also just people with families,” she added.

The story of the missing submersible quickly went viral on social media over the past week — with some users even joking about the incident or ridiculing the passengers. 

Reed said she hadn’t seen Stockton or many OceanGate workers for weeks leading up to the recent excursion to the Titanic, as the staff prepared for the annual event — OceanGate’s third venture to the Titanic since its inception.

“This is a tragedy for all those people on that mothership that are waiting or have been waiting for them to return,” she said. “They’re away from their families too and it’s taking a toll on them.”

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