by Cara Russell
By now we all know what happened in the early hours of July 19, 2013: arson, a single violent act for attention.
And the victim, a seventy-five year-old building, which was home to three Orcas Island businesses. For The Artworks Cooperative, James Hardman Gallery, and Café Olga, the historic Barreling Plant building was a source of income to 46 Orcas Island residents and artists—a source of income that was cut away from them at the height of their income earning season.
Every day since these three businesses burned, The Olga Strawberry Council and many island residents have been working together to rebuild this historic building, their businesses, and their livelihood. But rebuilding the Artworks building will take time.
For the time being, Café Olga owners Bobby Olmsted and Bev Simko, and the employees of Café Olga are working hard by moving forward to bring Café Olga back to the public. And they have found a new place. They plan to open in the location formerly occupied by FIRE! Smokehouse and Grill in Eastsound.
Bobby and his crew have been busy transforming the space and making it their own. When Orcas Issues checked in with them the restaurant was different, already on its way. The space had a new building smell, which a coat of paint can do. And everyone’s spirits were high as they worked.
Bobby explained that he plans to open Café Olga in town no later than October 15. “All the staff that worked for us have been notified that we’ll take them back if they want to,” said Bev.
They’ve signed a lease to stay in the restaraunt in Eastsound through the spring of 2014: but how long they remain in Eastsound depends on how quickly the building in Olga gets rebuilt.
That process has two phases until it is completely restored. First they need to get the roof finished, and then they will focus on the interior. “This whole thing has been a learning experience, so were just going with it,“ said Simko.
So as the community supports and looks forward to seeing Café Olga open again, can we expect anything new and exciting on reopening? “There are some new concepts coming with the Café Olga menu, but I’m not going to tell you what they are,” Olmsted teased.
The wait is almost over, and in the next few weeks we can expect to see some changes at the former FIRE! So keep an eye out for the much-supported and anticipated reopening of Café Olga in town.
Bobby and Bev would like to thank the community for the generous donations, and heartfelt cards and emails of well wishes. “We look forward to seeing everybody soon.”