Marilyn Rosenberg, owner of Cafe Zippy, on the last day of business in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Marilyn Rosenberg, owner of Cafe Zippy, on the last day of business in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cafe Zippy, an offbeat Everett community hub, closes

With a $700 rent hike looming, owner Marilyn Rosenberg opted to close the restaurant after a 17-year run.

EVERETT — Marilyn Rosenberg waited for the ball to drop before closing Cafe Zippy, the offbeat restaurant and music hot spot, forever.

Rosenberg threw one last party at the cafe, a New Year’s shindig, on Eastern Standard Time.

Party-goers tapped their feet on the wooden floor and spilled onto the lighted patio. Badd Chicken, a local rock and blues band, and Hambone Wilson, a South Carolina blues artist, lit up the room from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

At 9 o’clock, Rosenberg zoomed in to New York City and the ball dropping in Times Square. “We celebrated our New York, New Year’s,” Rosenberg said.

It was exactly how she wanted the cafe’s 17-year run to end, with a bang and at an early hour.

“I don’t like to celebrate too late,” she said.

On Friday, Cafe Zippy pulled its last espresso shot and dished up the last vegan “tuna” salad, a fooler made with sunflower seeds, lemon and red onions.

Facing a $700 monthly increase in rent and personal health issues, Rosenberg opted to close the natural foods restaurant at 1502 Rucker Ave.

“I need to put myself first and have some balance in my life,” Rosenberg said. “My lease is up in December. This is the avenue I took.”

The 1920 building in which the cafe was housed — the former C. Van grocery store and butcher shop — is for sale for $1.5 million.

Cafe Zippy, named after Rosenberg’s beloved Dalmatian, first opened on Hewitt Avenue in 2005 as Zippy’s Java Lounge.

A painting of the namesake of Cafe Zippy in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

A painting of the namesake of Cafe Zippy in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The spotted dog was ever-present in the cafe, and renditions of Zippy — drawn or painted by admirers — covered the walls.

In 2011, it relocated to 2811 Wetmore Ave., across from Funko.

For the past five years, the cafe has been ensconced in North Everett at 1504 Rucker Ave.

Cafe Zippy has always been more than its menu. Live music, poetry readings, game nights, comedy and fundraisers for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Snohomish County and other groups — Zippy’s hosted them all.

“I started the cafe because I wanted people to connect,” Rosenberg said.

For those in search of a gift or tchotchke, she stocked cards, coffee mugs and Ruth Bader Ginsberg refrigerator magnets: “You can’t spell truth without Ruth.” An enormous cork bulletin board, overflowing with messages and business cards, filled a wall near the restrooms. She made a point of hiring workers with disabilities and urging other business owners to do the same.

In 2008, Rosenberg was honored with a KSER radio Community Impact Award. And Cafe Zippy received one of the Everett Cultural Arts Commission’s Mayor’s Arts Awards in 2015 for a business making a difference.

For Bill and Kim Conn, who live around the corner, Zippy’s has been a place to hear live music, meet artists and sit a spell on a sunny day with their three little dogs. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor porch, said Bill Conn, who named Jasper, Cooper and Chesney as beneficiaries of the cafe’s dog-friendly policy.

The kitchen was always a match for Kim Conn.

“Part of the reason I love this place is because it’s gluten-free and dairy-free,” Kim Conn said. “She has menu items that accommodate me. I don’t have to talk to the chef.”

“We’re going to miss coming here,” she added.

Cafe Zippy is closing after 17 years in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Cafe Zippy is closing after 17 years in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Rosenberg, a Minneapolis-St. Paul transplant who moved to Seattle 30 years ago, worked at Seattle-area restaurants and sold art at the Pike Place Market.

The market was where Rosenberg first met Zippy. Rosenberg’s friend, an avowed cat person, couldn’t resist a free Dalmatian puppy riding in a red wagon through the busy promenade.

“She took him home, and then showed up the next day asking if I’d take him. Turns out, she was a cat person,” Rosenberg said, laughing.

In 2002, she found her way to Everett when her horse, Mojo, ambled into her life. She was boarding him on Ebey Island when she discovered the waterfront city.

“Seattle felt like my forever home, until my journey brought me to Everett,” Rosenberg said.

She packed her bags and moved 25 miles north, to the city she calls a hidden gem. Mojo is 25 now and “healthier than ever,” she said. Zippy died in 2015.

Marilyn Rosenberg is closing Cafe Zippy after 17 years in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Marilyn Rosenberg is closing Cafe Zippy after 17 years in Everett. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

“Everett is the best kept secret. It has a small town feel to it,” Rosenberg said. “No matter where you go you always run into people. I just can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s enriched me in so many ways.”

A food cart, a pop-up cafe, a wholesale version of her signature vegan tuna could be in the cards later this year, but “first a break,” said Rosenberg, who turned 57 on Monday. She plans to update the cafe’s Facebook page with her future moves.

Friday was bittersweet. Between boxing up wine and ringing up customers, Rosenberg described the parade of well wishers who’d taken the time to pop in.

“So many people have come in, in the last two weeks,” Rosenberg said. “I knew I had a big family, but I didn’t realize my family was so sweet. It just brings tears to my eyes.”

Kim Conn browses the shelves at the Cafe Zippy in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Kim Conn browses the shelves at the Cafe Zippy in Everett on Friday afternoon. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Pausing, Rosenberg adjusted the knit hat that held her braids in place and gazed at the familiar walls.

“I love what I do. I can’t really complain about how many hours at work and how long it’s been — because this is my passion, my heart. I only do what makes my heart happy,” Rosenberg said, a small, wistful note adding a tremble to her voice.

“The sweetest things in life are the people that your paths cross,” she said.

But, ah, Zippy’s vegan cinnamon rolls also have their place.

Janice Podsada;; 425-339-3097; Twitter: @JanicePods.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

Think Tank Cowork in Everett, Washington on July 19, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
The first co-working space opens in downtown Everett

Think Tank Cowork’s owner hopes the facility will inspire other business owners to call Everett home.

New LGI Homes on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Sultan, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The real estate market took an abrupt turn this spring

Mortgage rates are up, but home inspections, seller concessions are back on the table for buyers.

The Lab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs and inventors located at 404 N. Olympic Ave. (Photo credit: TheLab@Arlington)
New Arlington business incubator opens

TheLab@Arlington is a new one-stop shop for entrepreneurs, inventors and business owners.

Patrons view the 787 exhibition Thursday morning at the Boeing Future of Flight Musuem at Paine Field on October 8, 2020. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Paine Field was county’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Not now

Snohomish County officials hope festivals and outdoor activities will fill Paine Field tourist gap.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood Chamber of Commerce ‘can’t keep the doors open’

The chamber is set to shut down at the end of the month due to financial challenges.

Maria Rios, a ferry worker of 13 years, helps Frank and Fran Butler, both of Washington, D.C., check out as the couple purchases food on Thursday, July 21, 2022, aboard the MV Suquamish ferry between Mukilteo and Clinton, Washington. Rios said food service returned to the Suquamish about three weeks prior. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Drink up! Happy hour on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry is back

More galleys are reopening as pandemic restrictions scale back. Get out of your car for concessions just like at the ballpark.

OnTrac Logistics has leased a building now under construction at Bay Wood Business Park on Everett's waterfront. The shipping company will open a facility there later this year that will employ 400 people. (Artist Rendering/Broderick Group.)
New Everett shipping facility to generate 400 jobs

OnTrac Logistics has leased a new building on the 12½-acre Baywood Business Park on Everett’s waterfront.

The Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum at Paine Field in Everett. (Janice Podsada / The Herald) 20220419
Flying Heritage Museum to reopen with new owner at Paine Field

Walmart heir Steuart Walton bought the historic aircraft and artifacts. The museum is set to reopen within the year.

Renee's Contemporary Clothing store at 2820 Colby Ave. on July 11, 2022. The iconic downtown Everett store is closing in August after 29 years in business. (Janice Podsada/The Herald)
Renee’s, another iconic downtown Everett store, is closing

After 29 years in business, the longstanding clothing shop will shutter. In-person sales slowed when stores reopened.

FILE - The logo for Boeing appears on a screen above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Boeing is reporting a money-losing quarter as both its civilian-airplane division and the defense business are struggling. Boeing said Wednesday, April 27, 2022,  that it lost $1.24 billion in the first quarter and took large write-downs for several programs.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
Boeing sees best month for aircraft deliveries since 2019

The company delivered 51 passenger and cargo planes in June, its best month for deliveries in recent years.

The Alderwood Towne Center, a 105,000 square-foot strip mall, is located at 3105-3225 Alderwood Mall Blvd. The mall, which has been sold, is home to 20 businesses, including anchor tenants Marshalls and Michaels. Photo Credit: CBRE Group.
Lynnwood strip mall near Link Light Rail Station sold

Alderwood Towne Center, home to 20 businesses, could eventually be redeveloped to take advantage of light rail.

James Berntson shows how his farm uses a trellis system to control tomato plants on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, at Radicle Roots Farm in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Backyard business: Snohomish farm thrives on less than one acre.

James Berntson grew Radicle Roots Farm using smart crop planning and organic practices.