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
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
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.