Chandler Williamson, a board member of the Everett Recovery Cafe, points out that some work that needs to be done to the lower level of the old Everett Public Market before it can become the cafe’s new home. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Chandler Williamson, a board member of the Everett Recovery Cafe, points out that some work that needs to be done to the lower level of the old Everett Public Market before it can become the cafe’s new home. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Everett Recovery Cafe moving to old public market building

A board member of the nonprofit that serves people battling addiction has his own story of recovery.

There’s a for-sale sign outside the little house at 2212 Broadway, which since 2015 has been home to the Everett Recovery Cafe. Inside, the nonprofit that’s planning a move to the old Everett Public Market continues its healing work.

People come to the cafe to strive against addiction. It’s a refuge from the streets, a place to rebuild a life while meeting for lunch and fellowship. The organization has about 60 active members — memberships are free — and some 25 volunteers, said Lyle Kendall, president of the cafe’s board of directors.

“We’re bursting at the seams on Broadway,” said Kendall, who lives on Whidbey Island.

The nonprofit was founded by Wendy Grove, now its executive director. A former Snohomish teacher, Grove modeled it on Seattle’s Recovery Cafe.

Chandler Williamson, vice president of the Everett Recovery Cafe board, leads its relocation committee.

“Like a number of people involved with the cafe, I’m in recovery myself. I’ve been sober 19 years in September,” said Williamson, 55, a California native now living on Camano Island. Williamson said he struggled with alcohol and marijuana in his 30s.

“I went to a recovery house. It turned my life around,” he said. “I never became homeless, but I went far enough into my addiction I can relate to anyone who is homeless — those feelings of hopelessness.”

Now that owners of the Broadway house, Gary and Margaret Fast, have put it on the market, demolition work is starting on the lower level of the Everett Public Market building at 2804 Grand Ave. On June 29, the Everett Recovery Cafe signed a five-year lease on the California Street side of the building’s lower level.

On Thursday, Williamson showed visitors the cavernous space, where renovations are planned to create an open cafe area, a kitchen, offices, meeting spaces and bathrooms.

There’s plenty of irony in a group that fosters sobriety moving to that spot, 1212 California St. Through the years it was home to several bars, among them the Everett Underground, Twisted and Bar Myx, which catered to a gay and lesbian crowd.

“It’s very ironic, a nightclub becoming a recovery place,” Williamson said.

Built in about 1915, the Everett Public Market was purchased in 2006 by Lobsang Dargey, a developer from Tibet who last August was sentenced to four years in federal prison. The developer of Potala Place, now Grand Avenue Marketplace and Apartments in Everett, admitted to diverting millions of dollars of Chinese investors’ money, much of it raised under the federal EB-5 program intended to spur economic development.

Snohomish County property records now show the Everett Public Market with 50 percent ownership by Ltdargey LLC and 50 percent by EMA Investment LLC, with the taxpayer listed as Dargey Enterprises LLC. As part of his plea agreement, Dargey agreed to pay about $24 million in restitution to the investors.

The cafe’s Broadway lease is up at the end of September, Kendall said. Depending on what happens with the sale of the little house, the cafe may rent it month to month for a while. There also might be a church willing to provide space before renovations are finished, Williamson said.

He doesn’t expect the cafe to open in its new home until early next year. The nonprofit, which is working with an architect, is awaiting a building permit. Williamson, a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, has a background in clean energy.

The Sisters Restaurant and the Sno Isle Food Co-Op are longtime street-front occupants of the Everett Public Market, a building with quite a history. Built as a livery stable, in its early days it was home to Hogland Transfer Company, a trucking firm still in business in Everett. During World War II, it became a subassembly plant for the Boeing B-29. It was once a Sears warehouse, and still has upstairs offices.

Brooklyn Bros. pizza plans to occupy the south side of the lower level, Williamson said. That space will be for making dough, rather than a restaurant, he said.

The nonprofit looked at other locations, but Kendall sees advantages to staying in the downtown core. “It’s close to some of the services our members take advantage of, and still has great access to public transportation,” he said.

Kendall said the cafe serves a mix of people.

“We recognize that any person in recovery is in recovery for life,” he said. “Some have experienced a level of normalcy come back into their life. And some just really, really struggle.”

Kendall said his life hasn’t been directly touched by addiction. Still, he said, “drive through any town, our city or anywhere, and see the effects not just of poverty but addiction.

“It’s a very meaningful project,” Kendall said.

From his own journey, Williamson knows there’s a way past what he calls “sheer hopelessness.”

“People can’t see how they can get from where they are to somewhere else,” he said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@herald net.com.

Learn more

The Everett Recovery Cafe, at 2212 Broadway, is open noon-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Information: https://everettrecoverycafe.org

Work parties at the cafe’s future home, 1212 California St., are planned for 5-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturdays. For information, email: info@everettrecoverycafe.org

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