Story and photos by Kathy Mulady
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
At 2:45 p.m. today, the last meal was cooked and served at Webster’s Charlestown Street Café.
Hesper Guerra, a waitress at the restaurant for two decades, raised a little plastic glass of apple cider, tears sliding down her cheeks, and gave a toast. The staff gathered behind her raised their glasses, and dabbed their own tears.
The last customers of the restaurant left slowly, shaking hands with owner Ron Hanlon, sharing their thoughts on what the restaurant has meant to them.
“The food is great, but the love is better,” said Debbie Coscorrosa, who followed Hanlon from Webster’s restaurant to the Charlestown.
Deacon Dean Hard of First Lutheran Church in West Seattle had breakfast every morning at the Charlestown, and often came back for lunch or dinner. He has been a regular for 21 years.
“I had to be here for the final fling,” he said. “I’ve watched Hesper and Tama grow up here. The kitchen staff is behind the scenes, but they are the best. It is a true, true family here.” Deacon Hard said he isn’t sure where he will go for future meals, but thinks he “might go bug Jack Miller at Husky Deli for a while.”
West Seattle composer Bobby Weinberg gave Hesper and Tama Warrior big hugs as he left. “I’ve been friends with Ron as long as I can remember,” said Weinberg.
Bob Miller and Jaunita Ludwig said they never had a bad meal at the Charlestown, They too have been customers for 20 years.
Hanlon autographed a menu for longtime customer Jim Lockerbie.
“This is an institution,” said Lockerbie.
Hanlon invited customers and staff to take their favorite pictures that decorate the walls. One customer bought the mirror in the women’s bathroom. Hanlon said he sold 30 chairs to a church for their choir.
Others bought frozen bags of the beloved award-winning clam chowder to take home for future dinners.
Many customers left their e-mail addresses, hoping to stay in touch with their favorite servers, and possible news of the crew opening a new restaurant somewhere else in West Seattle.
By 4 pm, the kitchen was cleaned. The last customer was gone, but the front door was still wide open. The staff gathered at tables for final farewells and hugs. Most don’t have new jobs yet and aren’t sure what they will be doing next.
Hanlon knows what’s next on his list: 32 years on his feet in the restaurant has taken a toll on his knees. He is having knee replacement surgery in two weeks, then a long recovery.
After that, he’s not sure.
“I’m only 65, I’m not done,” Hanlon said.
Previous WSB coverage of the Charlestown Street Cafe’s ups and downs over the past four years is archived here, newest to oldest (scroll down the page), including first word just one week ago that Hanlon would shut it down. The site’s fate has not been officially announced; as we noted last weekend, city online records indicate a mixed-use development proposal was floated last year.