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North Seattle café, scene of shooting in 2012, set to reopen

A famed North Seattle café that was the scene of a mass shooting could have a new life as a new venue with the same famous name.

Back in October, KIRO 7 spoke to the owner of Café Racer, Kurt Geissel, about his heart-wrenching decision to shutter the business he loved. Now his heartache could be eased with the café reopening under a new owner.

The man who wants to re-open the doors at Café Racer didn’t even realize it was for sale, so when it closed in October, Jeffory Ramsey found out he could buy it.

Ramsey, whose business is to revitalize hospitality properties, says he’s going to restore and revamp it, making sure the legacy of this property endures.

Geissel admitted that he was sometimes at a loss when talking to people about the possibility of Café Racer coming back to life.

“I just kept telling people ‘be patient; something’s going to happen,” Geissel said.

He said that when the business closed, something was missing from his life and from the pulse of Seattle. He even said fans of Café Racer admitted as much to him during Thanksgiving weekend.

“For the past 10 years after family dinner Thanksgiving, we’d always go down to the cafe and talk about what happened, the family gathering or whatever. Now where do we go?” he said.

Ramsey also felt the café’s closure hurt the surrounding community.

“Those types of venues are disappearing in Seattle. You’re seeing in the mid-1990s we had an abundance of them and they’re dying out,” he said.

Both men admit that Café Racer has a roller-coaster history. In 2012, Café Racer was the scene of a shooting where Ian Stawicki killed several people before taking his own life. Geissel remembers the aftermath when people converged on the café in mourning. He determined to keep the café open even after the tragedy. He choked up describing what that effort meant.

“I see it as a memorial to them, that the love and the caring and the sharing and the art kept going…I know they would be very, very proud of everybody here, the whole community,” he said.

Geissel also admitted he’s not a businessman. Five years after the shooting, he decided to close Café Racer.

Ramsey has revived other venues. He knows Café Racer can be the staple it was and more.

“The death of these types of venues, they aren’t coming back, so I feel it is kind of important to keep them alive. Kurt Really opened it up to be that meeting place and I think people embraced that,” he said.

Geissel says he’s glad Café Racer will open again.

“It’s hard to put it into words something that you’ve created and it will live on after you’re done with it,” he said.

Geissel will have a continuing role at Café Racer.

Ramsey says he hopes to have Café Racer open by Jan.1.

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