Gentry Little sipped a midday mimosa Friday in the neighborhood cafe she has been coming to for years. Cafe Racer in Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood reopened Friday, roughly seven weeks after a gunman opened fire inside.
“It feels good to be back,” she said. “It really kind of feels like it always did; missing a few regulars.”
Working the stovetop on Friday was Leonard Meuse, the cook and lone surviving victim of the May 30 shooting rampage that left five others dead.
“He’s in good spirits,” said Meuse’s boss, Kurt Geissel, who owns the cafe. He called it a relief to have the cafe back open for business. He sat in his upstairs office Friday paying bills.
“It was a lot of work to get this place back up, and it was just a sense of trying to get back to normal from what happened,” he said.
Cafe Racer was given a fresh coat of paint and new flooring. A new bar replaced the old one, which was damaged by gunfire, Geissel said. But the biggest change, he said, are the customers.
“Four of my patrons are gone and they were neighbors and friends,” he said. “They’re going to be missed a lot. In that respect it’s changed because they did add a lot to the character of the place.”
On the same day the cafe reopened, another mass shooting took place at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Geissel offered condolences to the victims and their families, saying he can empathize with what they have gone through.
“It was just another person who was angry,” he said of the Colorado gunman, who authorities say is a 24-year-old man named James Holmes.
In the Cafe Racer incident, a mentally-ill man named Ian Stawicki shot four people inside the cafe and killed another woman downtown before taking his own life.