What’s up at The Hub in Snohomish?

SNOHOMISH — For Steve Dana, The Hub has been more than the family business.

It’s been a way of life.

So the decision to sell the restaurant many locals consider a Snohomish institution didn’t come easy.

The recession has hit owners Steve and Noreen Dana hard. Customers just haven’t been able to spend as much money as they used to, Steve Dana said.

No closing date has been set yet, but he hopes to sell the restaurant in the first half of this year.

Historical photographs on the walls of The Hub and the summary on its Web site chronicle 50 years of the family business.

The Hub was a small drive-in when Newell and Shirley Dana bought it in 1960. They were originally from Lake Stevens. They belonged in Snohomish. Drive-in restaurants were in their heyday in 1960s, and The Hub quickly became a local fixture.

Steve Dana was 10 years old when he started helping his parents at the restaurant, peeling potatoes in the back.

As he grew older, he began waiting tables with his older brother.

He watched his father work and learned from him.

When Newell Dana decided to retire 25 years later, Steve Dana and his wife bought the business.

“It’s like my anchor,” he said. “But, you know, some things are outside our control.”

Dana designed and built a new, bigger building in 2003. He expanded the menu. He worked to make the restaurant appeal to older people.

He bought round tables and encouraged people who came alone to share a meal with other single customers. He watched lifelong friendships develop over lunch.

“We’ve invested our whole lives into this,” Steve Dana said.

Dana is at The Hub at 6 a.m. most mornings. He knows his customers by name. He has put items on the menu for specific people.

Late on a recent Saturday afternoon, The Hub was quiet as the servers got a break between the lunch crowd and the dinner crowd.

Gerry and Marvin Hoover came in, exchanging a few friendly words with Dana and the staff.

The couple, who are in their 70s, have been coming to The Hub daily for years.

“It’s a landmark,” Gerry Hoover said. She ordered a salad.

The Hoovers said they were saddened to learn Dana is selling the place. They hope whoever buys the building will keep it a restaurant. The Hub just holds so many memories.

“It’s among the best of Snohomish,” Marvin Hoover said. He ordered his favorite Hawaiian sandwich with ham and pineapple.

Dana is a practical man, He designed the building to be flexible. It can be turned into a bank or a chiropractor’s office or continue to be used as a restaurant.

Dana isn’t sure what he’ll do next. He is considering running for the state Legislature. He’s been active in city government for years and ran for the Snohomish County Council last year.

But for now, Dana just hopes to keep The Hub open as long as possible.

Haily Clemans has worked as a waitress at the restaurant for more than three years.

Clemans said The Hub has been a strong force in her life. She isn’t looking forward to job-hunting.

“I have a lot of great customers,” she said. “They’ve become like my family.”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452, kyefimova@heraldnet.com.

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