Famous Cafe hit by arson

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NORTH BEND — Local dining favorite and world-famous

destination Twede's Cafe was robbed and set on fire in the wee hours of Sunday


Sometime before 3 a.m., the arsonist broke in and stole $450, then

set several fires in the restaurant's back section.

It took 20 firefighters about one hour to extinguish the blaze and

officials estimated the building's damage at $250,000. Crews were able to

enter the building and offensively attack the blaze, which might have been

burning for about an hour before they arrived.

"The guys did one heck of a job to stop the fire," said Mike Absher, a

fire marshal for Eastside Fire & Rescue (ESF&R).

Firefighters were called to the scene at 3:14 a.m. after a tow

truck driver spotted smoke coming from the restaurant. Units from ESF&R's

North Bend, Wilderness Rim, Carnation and Issaquah stations and the

Snoqualmie Department of Public Safety's Fire Division battled the fire.

When firefighters arrived, they noticed that one of the storage

rooms facing Bendigo Boulevard was unlocked. Smoke was also seen

coming from the front of the building. Officials said the early morning blaze

was purposely set in two storage rooms in the back of Twede's after

someone stole money from a cash register and a box located in a filing cabinet.

Investigators said there are currently no suspects.

Most of the fire's destruction was contained to the storage areas

where the owners kept the canned goods and produce. The dining area was

spared, however, the smoke and heat didn't leave it unscathed.

"The fire damaged the rear one-third of the building and there is

smoke damage throughout," Absher said. "They'll need to replace the roof

and do a complete renovation to the inside."

None of the neighboring businesses were harmed by the fire.

Twede's, formerly known as the Mar T' Cafe, was bought three

years ago and renamed by Kyle Twede and his wife Kathleen.

The café has become a Mecca for tourists around the world because

of its role in the 1990s TV show, "Twin Peaks." Travelers usually flock

to Twede's by the busload for a slice of their cherry pie that was often

mentioned on the show.

But aside from the tourists, Twede's touches many local lives

and is a frequent dining choice for many residents.

"I have about 25 [regulars] that come in every day and hundreds

every week. And now they have to find someplace else to go," Kyle

Twede said.

The cafe has been serving North Bend for years and is part of a

downtown district that is under consideration for historic landmark

designation, a measure to preserve the city's heritage. The restaurant was built

in 1941 and was called Thompson's Cafe for at least a decade.

"This a big wound to the community. It is a local landmark for

decades and these people don't realize that somebody's [act of] arson will

deprive people of memories," Twede said. "That's what this place really

is, memories."

To preserve this piece of history, cleanup efforts are expected to

begin this week and Twede said he wants to get the restaurant up and running

as soon as possible because his 18 employees are out of work until then.

"[Officials] are telling me that I will be up in two weeks or two

months, depending on what happens," he said. "I'm pushing to do it quick because

I have people that need money and people who need to eat here. I

just want to get this up and running and give the town their restaurant back."

North Bend residents have already pulled together to help Twede and

his café. Some have offered to bring new Tweety bird stuffed animals to

replace the charred ones that hung from the café's ceiling. And North Bend

Theater owner Brian Slover has set up a benefit and donation fund for the

cafe and its employees.

"That's all I want to do is support the guy because it could have been

any one of the businesses along that street," Slover said. "We need to support

our neighbor and keep an eye on the place."

The benefit will feature a film and other events on July 16 at the

North Bend Theater. A donation account has also been set up at the Issaquah

Bank in North Bend.

"I just want to say to the community at large `Thank you for your

support' because that's what means the most," Twede said.

Anyone with information about the arson should call the King

County Fire Marshal at (206) 296-6670.

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