Café may open in coming months

— image credit:

NORTH BEND — Local dining staple Twede's Café could

reopen sometime near the first of the year, said Mike Whalen, project manager for

the construction company in charge of rebuilding the restaurant.

"We're trying to rebuild as fast as we can," said restaurant owner

Kyle Twede.

The internationally famous café — previously called the Mar T —

was closed after being ravaged by arson more than two months ago.

A fire was set in at least two different locations in the back of the

restaurant, and $450 in cash was stolen shortly before 3 a.m., July 2. The

case is still under investigation by the King County Fire Marshal's office.

Although the blaze was contained to the food storage areas, the

dining area suffered heat and smoke damage.

Neighboring businesses were not harmed and nobody was injured in

the fire.

Eighteen employees were displaced by the blaze — many of

whom plan on returning — and left at least 25 regular daily customers to find

alternative dining options.

Crews will begin demolishing the inside of the restaurant this week.

The restaurant was built in the early 1940s by Roy Thompson

and was once Thompson's Café. Thompson's wife, now 92, is

the building's current owner. Her daughters, Donna Sams, Doris Wade

and Joyce Emmerton, are the property's executors.

Sams said there are two options for interior design. One is to model

the inside after its 1940s décor, and the other is to put it back the way it

was before the fire, as the fictional R & R Café featured in the "Twin Peaks"

TV and movie series.

"I don't care what style it turns into," Twede said. "What matters

to me is that I get my food back out there."

Speaking of the food, Twede said nothing would change, except for

the possible addition of chicken dinners.

The café is known throughout the world for its cherry pie, and a

"darn good cup of coffee." Locals

generally crave the eatery's burgers and breakfasts, along with the pie.

Now, it's just a matter of time before that pie returns.

"At this point in time, we're waiting for the contractor and

insurance company to make some decisions, and then the engineers will draw up

designs," Sams said, adding that Bridgeway Construction in Seattle

was chosen as the contractor.

The building is part of the downtown historical landmark

district, which means the building's exterior must be restored to its original look.

One thing Sams said she'd like to do is move the kitchen back to

where it originally was in order to create more room in the seating area.

Recently, Twede and some of his employees removed larger pieces

of equipment to get the inside ready for remodeling. Most of the furniture

is irreparable, so new booths and stools are on order.

Many novelty items were destroyed in the fire, so Twede said

that if anyone would like to donate their extra "Twin Peaks" momentos or

pictures, Tweetie Bird stuffed animals or historic pictures of the Valley,

the items would have a great home at the café.

Since the fire, several local businesses have raised money to

assist Twede in reopening.

North Bend Theater owner Brian Slover held a benefit in July that

consisted of a movie, auction and food. Donations totaled more than

$2,000 that evening.

Slover also helped set up a donation account at Issaquah Bank

for those who want to help. Then Georgio's Subs owners Terry Hill

and Bob Perrell donated their gross sales from a summer day — around

$800 — to Twede.

The city of North Bend passed a resolution to waive some of the

building permit fees and offered expedited services to encourage the quick

rebuilding of the restaurant.

"They are an important part of our downtown revitalization effort and

an icon in the Valley — one of our main tourist draws," said Joan

Simpson, North Bend mayor. She added that the resolution was adopted to show

the city's support.

Both Twede and Sams said they appreciate the community's support

in their ordeal.

"I want to thank the community," Twede said. "They've been so great."

Sams also said that anyone who would like to vote on the inside

design, whether it should be redone to 1940s style or remodeled to the

way it was before the building burned, should call her and leave a message

at (425) 888-0982.

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