This year Lorrie Bunney (left) turned over the keys to the Vintage Cafe restaurant in Everett to her daughter, Amber Lang. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

This year Lorrie Bunney (left) turned over the keys to the Vintage Cafe restaurant in Everett to her daughter, Amber Lang. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

An Everett restaurant has defied the odds for 43 years

The Vintage Cafe’s third-generation manager has taken over the restaurant and bar.

This is one of a series of Herald Business Journal stories about legacy businesses in Snohomish County.

EVERETT — A year ago, Lorrie Bunney turned over the keys to the Vintage Cafe to her daughter.

Amber Lang has worked at the restaurant since she was a teenager.

Now it’s her turn to run things, Bunney said.

It’s another milestone for the 43-year-old eatery at 1510 Hewitt Ave.

In 1976, Bunney’s mother, Karen Staniford, got a bank loan for $16,000 and opened a restaurant in the Hove Building. The historic structure was designed and built by architect Charles Hove the same year Everett incorporated, 1893.

The space Staniford leased had been a tavern called The Cave, open since the end of Prohibition.

Staniford named her restaurant The Alley and decorated the brick walls with photographs of Everett as a flourishing mill town.

When the doors opened, Bunney, then 14, was there busing tables.

As Bunney tells it, her mother was one of the first women in Everett to get a liquor license.

Howard Bargreen, head of a pair of longtime Everett businesses — Bargreen’s Coffee Co., and beverage distributor Crown Distributing Co. — “helped my mom get her license,” Bunney said.

“We haven’t had any other coffee than Bargreen’s since then,” she said.

In the 1970s, downtown Everett was the place to be. Shoppers had their choice of The Bon Marche, J.C. Penney, Sears and other retailers.

But that era was drawing to a close.

When Everett Mall opened in the mid-1970s, the city’s retail center began to falter.

Retail tenants moved to the mall or closed, leaving empty storefronts.

“The town kind of died. Everyone left by about 1984,” Bunney said.

The lunch and dinner crowd dwindled.

Karen Staniford, who’d married Jim Staniford in 1983, enlisted his help and remodeled the restaurant.

The Alley became Aaron’s, a night spot with pool tables and live music.

In 2000, Staniford and Bunney purchased the building.

Within a few years, the downtown area underwent yet another transformation.

The Everett Events Center, now Angel of the Winds Arena, opened in 2003, and the Everett Silvertips Hockey Club skated into town.

Staniford and Bunney closed Aaron’s. A few months later it re-opened as the Vintage Cafe, a family-friendly restaurant with a focus on dining and cocktails.

“Now it’s just down-home family cooking,” Bunney said.

Downtown Everett is showing renewed signs of life, Lang said.

There are more people downtown. More hotel guests are stopping by for a bite. The passenger terminal at Paine Field is up and running, she said.

Here’s some food for thought: Most independent restaurants close within 12 months of opening. The shelf life for those that remain is about five years, according to a Restaurant Broker’s study.

It’s been 43 years and counting for the Vintage Cafe.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods

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