Andie’s was an Auburn institution for more than 40 years, a mom-and-pop eatery of the kind one sees too seldom today – where everybody knows who you are, where you come from, where you’re at.
Where customers banter with the cook, and when the restaurant opens each morning, the cook has plates of “the usual” waiting for the regulars, because he knows who’ll be there and what they want.
Where waitresses dish out good-natured guff to customers whom they’ve known for many years, and customers give it right back.
Where you can get the latest gossip served up with a steaming cup of coffee.
And perhaps that rarest thing of all these days, where staff adore, absolutely adore, their employer, whose generosity is a byword on the lips of all who know her.
So the sobs and tears that flowed freely and non-stop among the packing boxes and detritus common to last days everywhere told you that closing day on Thursday of last week at 530 W. Main St., was like the death of a family.
Which, in fact, it was.
On Nov. 30, owner Sukcha (Sue) Perreira sold the restaurant to Hyung Kim for $600,000, according to King County records. Word around the restaurant was that Mr. Kim intends to open a Thai restaurant there sometime in the new year.
“I’ve had enough, I’m 73 years old,” said Perreira, a Hawaii native, who owned other restaurants in South King County in her years in the business, among them, Diamond Jim’s in Federal Way.
Perreira and her husband, Steve, first bought Andie’s in 1979, added the bar, sold it in 1985, then bought it again in 2002. Mr. Perreira died on Thanksgiving Day, 2009.
And now she is looking forward to setting aside the link sausages in exchange for a greener sort of links.
“I’m going to go golfing every day, that’s what I’m going to do,” Perreira said with a laugh.
Dale and Bonni Balogh, like all of Perreira’s customers, are at a loss.
“She is the place,” the couple said of Perreira, as Sophie, a young pug, grown conspicuously beefy on scraps, snuffled up for attention, and got it.
Dale and Bonni – she was a waitress at the restaurant more than 30 years ago – were part of a group of about 25 who became close friends at the eatery, and remained so for more than 15 years. When they could, they brought their kids, then their grandkids, with them.
“There are a lot of us who don’t know what we’re going to do, how we’re going to stay together,” said Mr. Balogh, a four-to-five-day-a-week customer of Andie’s, and one of many who made the joint bounce and sway on football Sundays.
“It’s about old Auburn being ripped apart, the loss of a long-established business on Main Street,” long-time customer Virginia Haugen said of the closure of Andie’s. “They stayed in business because they had regulars. I’d go down there and see these men gathered around the circular table, same guys meeting once a week down there.”
“Sue held onto this place, made this place, made Andie’s,” said Tish, a waitress for Perreira for 14 years. “And when she bought it back, she kept all of us … We are so family, and no one wants to leave.”
Missy, who worked at Andie’s through three owners, could not hold back the tears.
“Susie was heartfelt, heartfelt. If you had a family emergency, she would just say, ‘You go, you go, now.’ There was never a question about who was going to replace you,” said Missy.
“If a customer walked in, if someone lost a spouse or a child, she was right over to that table,” Tish added. “She sent flowers to the hospital when she found out a customer was there.”
Juan Juarez, the cook, left for a few years, but returned to take up the spatula again.
His memories are many, some poignant.
One customer in particular stands out in his memory: an old woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and for whom Andie’s and its fare was the one constant in her lonely life.
“The only thing she can remember is Andie’s and French toast, and she’s happy when she eats that, every day, seven days a week,” said Juarez, voice trailing off.
“Everyone here is family, and now it’s over, done,” said Missy. “She was the best boss.”