By Daniel Warn / For Nisqually Valley News
Masonry Cafe Catering intends to invest in the town of Yelm by taking over the former fire station on Yelm Ave adjacent to its storefront at 105 E. Yelm Ave.
The City of Yelm’s website says the expansion plans have resulted in a decision that favors acceptance of the project’s site plan review, which is a precursor to the construction phase of the development.
“We needed a seating area and for that we needed a public restroom,” Masonry Cafe owner Shelly Brown told the Nisqually Valley News. “The fire station had been there for over 30 years, closed.”
Brown said when she first went to see the location with her son, who is a business partner and cooperator, it was full of objects so they couldn’t even measure the building.
Once they walked in and measured the place, however, Brown said she was happy with what she found.
“Everything is original,” she says. “The ceiling is all original. There are stock fillers to fill the fire trucks when they come in…and the yellow paint on the floor where it told the fire trucks to pull over so they were right under the fillers was there. It was just a shame not to take advantage of the building for everyone to appreciate.
To kick off the project, Brown and his son took out a loan from the Federal Business Administration, which will fund some of the renovations needed to convert the old fire hall into a functional cafe with seating.
Although a remodel is needed, Brown said she wants the place to retain some of its historic roots.
“It’s all going to be fire station themed,” she said. “All the local firefighters came in and dropped off phones, firefighter helmets, firefighter coats and hydrants (and) pictures they had. It becomes a community space. That’s what we want it to be. We’re going to be the keeper for a while.
Brown said the site plan review process with the city went smoothly, if unexpectedly, although there is one requirement the city has stated that is currently delaying the project.
“We still have things to sort out with the parking lot,” she said. “The car park has been around for a number of years and there are too many spaces for its small size, so it’s kind of our backwardness. We’re trying to square that up.
According to the City’s notice of decision on the revision of the project’s site plan, all parking spaces must be at least 20 feet long. Current parking stalls are about 17 feet long, so they need to be extended to fit city code. There are also a few other parking space requirements. The width of the spaces must be at certain intervals and there must be signage indicating an “acceptable for vans” parking space.
“We are waiting for the city to approve another parking scheme,” Brown said. “It’s been a process…to say the least.”
Established in 2018, Masonry Cafe Catering sells take-out lunches like burgers or sandwiches, as well as pastries and baked goods from its existing storefront.
The company, however, is primarily known for its catering services, which Brown says can accommodate “just about anything.”
Current expansion plans show both the company’s fire station section and the existing storefront in use.
“The masonry door will be above the fire station. This will be our main door,” Brown said, noting that one of the existing garage-style fire doors will be a roll-up glass door and the other a commercial entrance. “The other side (the existing storefront) will be where people come and pick up like they did before – takeout food. They can come and collect. We will use it for a catering-consultation area. And then we’ll have other bakeries coming to shop there.
Brown said when she started the business with her son, they didn’t know anyone in the community. Opening the doors to Masonry was a leap of faith. Brown said she left a stable job with good benefits to bring her services to Yelm.
“I really wanted to do something for myself and my family, something that my kids could carry on,” she said.
“I just thought it would just be a little coffee to go,” she added. “Then it sort of morphed from there. I hadn’t planned on doing as much restoration as I do now, but it’s my heart and my soul. … It kinda feeds your soul, gives you want to do more.
It was the embrace of Masonry by the people of Yelm that proved to Brown that she had made the right choice.
“They’ve been amazing,” she said. “We’ve had people come up to us and say, ‘We’re so glad you’re here. We’ve been expecting you. All of our customers can’t wait for it to be open next door. »
For more information about Masonry Cafe Catering, call 360-400-0522 or visit www.masonrycafecatering.com.