This post is written by Cafe Racer bartender Nicholas Anderson, on behalf of the Cafe Racer staff.
"Cafe Racer is the best place in Seattle." For the last 24 hours I've heard this declaration, or some variation thereof, from dozens of people. People with tears in their eyes, with sadness in their hearts, with their arms around me and mine around them. Some of these people I know like family, some are only acquaintances, and some are strangers. But they all say that same thing. And I try to smile through my own tears and hold them a little longer. It's the best I can do to try and prove them right.
I've lived in the Roosevelt neighborhood for most of my adult life, and I've worked at Cafe Racer for most of that. I started there as "quiet book-reading guy," became the "FNG," then was decorated as Bar Manager, and finally graduated to "Does Nick just live here now?" I know this neighborhood and the people who live in it. I can see Cafe Racer from my desk where I write this, the windows and the lovely, moving memorial that's sprung up overnight as if by some wonderful magic. This is my neighborhood, and I always thought that Cafe Racer was my bar. But I realize now that I've been wrong. Cafe Racer has always belonged to this neighborhood, to all the people who've told me it's the best place in Seattle. I've mopped its floors, I've counted its tills, I've poured its coffees, beers, and mixed its drinks, but all that is more a privilege than an ownership, and I'm unable to confuse the two anymore. All of Racer's employees have similar stories to mine; all have ties to the cafe as strong as mine is. It's my privilege to write this for myself, but it's my honor to write this for them.
On Wednesday, May 30th, a tragedy struck the best place in Seattle. A monster without tried to destroy what was within. But this is not about that tragedy. This is written for all of the employees, family, friends, regulars, and anybody else who came into Racer and realized that they had found something special. And it's written for the people who made Cafe Racer what it was, what it is, and what it will be. Don. Kim. Drew. Joe. Len. These people made (and make) Cafe Racer the best place in Seattle, and if you've been lucky enough to have talked to any one of them, you understand why. And it's because of them that I've learned how far the arms of Racer actually stretch and, my oh my, I swear… they embrace the whole damn world.
In the last 24 hours, Cafe Racer's e-mail account has been inundated with missives, letters, tidings of comfort, succor, and compassion. Our Twitter account is uncontrollable—everyone sending love and positive thoughts in 140 characters or less. And our small, quiet cafe has been visited, kissed, blessed, and simply loved by more people than we can count. Our neighborhood has responded, and it turns out our neighborhood doesn't end where Roosevelt Way does. To everyone who's sent us an their love or laid a memento at our door, thank you. You are Cafe Racer and vice versa, and that's something bigger, stronger, and more beautiful than anything I can adequately express.
Many of you have communicated a desire to help see Cafe Racer open its doors again and invite the world in. These sentiments are more precious to us than gold. We will eventually open back up, and when we do, we hope the whole world bellys up to our bar. WE WILL BE OPEN AGAIN. Sadly, now is a time of grieving and healing. We've all suffered an incalculable loss, and we need to take care of each other and mourn our friends. We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we need to gather our strength if we're to accomplish all of it. That said, if you absolutely feel like you need to do something, allow me to offer some options.
As I write this, friends are constructing charities, funds, memorials, various means of support. Our website will provide information and links as resources are confirmed. On a more personal note, and just as important, for anyone looking for a more immediate way to honor Don, Kim, Drew, Joe, and Len, allow me to offer some suggestions. I served these people countless times from behind Cafe Racer's bar, and I feel confident they would appreciate my recommendations. With a heavy heart, here we go…
For Drew and Joe, our resident and beloved musicians, the heart and backbone of anyone who has ever graced the Cafe Racer's stage: Find one of their brilliant records (my personal favorite is A Beautiful Trainwreck, the soundtrack to this missive) and play it LOUD. Crack a Pabst Blue Ribbon or two (or seven), and tell the dirtiest jokes you know. It's okay to cry, but try to laugh more. I guarantee that's how the boys would want it. Remember, these are the guys behind the song "Gutter Uv Luv," which features the line, "Someday I'm gonna be a star." Drew wasn't lying when he sang that, and we should always celebrate the truth, singing it in the streets.
For Kim, our sunshine, our ray of light on a cloudy day, our girl with a heart of gold: Go to your favorite neighborhood bar, flash the bartender your prettiest, brightest smile, and order a Kimosa (that's champagne with cranberry and/or pineapple juice). Tell them that it's delicious (you won't be lying), and then talk to EVERYONE around you and do your level best to make them feel special. Again it's okay to cry, but try to smile; Kim had the best smile in the world, and now we need to pick up the slack.
For Don, our neighbor and friend, the all-around best guy that everyone should be lucky enough to know—the nicest, smartest man on the block: Order an Americano from your favorite cafe and proceed to tell the truest tall tales you can. Mean every single word of them. Try to shake everyone's hand and look them in the eye while you're doing it. Then make sure that everyone on your block knows and loves you, and that you know and love them right back. Also, learn the saxophone.
And for Len, our survivor, our cook, our Harley rider, our shelter in a storm, our family: Wait until he's back with us. Hug him. Tell him you love him. Hug him again.