Wendy Grove (center), founder and executive director of the Recovery Cafe in Everett, speaks during the grand opening on Wednesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Wendy Grove (center), founder and executive director of the Recovery Cafe in Everett, speaks during the grand opening on Wednesday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

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‘Safe gathering place’: Recovery Cafe shows off its new digs

A light and welcoming spot in what was once a dark bar will help those who’ve struggled with addiction.

In a place transformed, Wendy Grove welcomed well-wishers to the Everett Recovery Cafe Wednesday for what she called “a small celebration that feels grand in our hearts.”

The grand opening of the Recovery Cafe’s new location, the renovated lower level of the old Everett Public Market building, was a testament to the nonprofit’s mission. And that’s to bring about a more important transformation — healing the lives of people affected by substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness.

Grove is founder and executive director of the Everett Recovery Cafe, which opened in a vintage house on Broadway in 2015. After losing the lease there in 2018, the cafe moved temporarily to Everett’s United Church of Christ. The church, in partnership with the Everett Gospel Mission, now hosts a 24-hour shelter.

Modeled after the original Recovery Cafe in Seattle, the Everett Recovery Cafe is a free membership-based day center. Along with camaraderie and hearty lunches served Tuesdays through Saturdays, it provides support and resources. Members are asked to attend weekly recovery circles, be 24 hours drug and alcohol free to take part, and help with chores such as washing dishes or mopping.

“This is the safe gathering place the community needs,” said Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin, who was among the invited guests. Others included U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Snohomish County Treasurer Brian Sullivan, state Rep. April Berg and NAACP Snohomish County President Janice Greene.

The once dark and dingy space at 1212 California St., formerly home to several bars, is now bright and airy. West-facing windows bring in daylight and offer views of Port Gardner. A meeting room is stocked with art supplies. A modern commercial kitchen is equipped to serve cafe members.

Larsen, who in 2015 visited the Broadway location, also stopped by last year during renovations. Through the years, the space had been several nightspots — the Everett Underground, Twisted and Bar Myx. The project “seemed very ambitious,” Larsen said. “This is great to see.”

While the pandemic “set us all back,” Larsen said, there’s more understanding today than in the past of what’s needed to overcome addiction. “Tools are in place,” he said, from social workers in law enforcement to medically assisted treatment. “The Recovery Cafe is part of the toolbox.”

The beauty reflected in the clean white and pale gray space is part of the cafe’s philosophy, Grove said.

“People come in with the burdens of failure and shame. When they come through these doors we want to convey that they are valued. It’s essential to our work,” Grove said. “Our work is to support people to heal and grow, as long as it takes.”

The pandemic added to the cafe’s challenges, but didn’t keep it from hosting meetings online or handing out sack lunches. It’s been open at its new home since March, and works with people one-on-one with the help of about 30 recovery coaches.

In 2018, the Recovery Cafe signed a five-year lease for its portion of the 1915-era building. A livery stable long ago, during World War II it was a sub-assembly plant for the Boeing B-29. Today, the Sno-Isle Food Co-Op occupies the Grand Avenue storefront.

Chandler Williamson, vice president of the cafe’s board, said Wednesday’s event was meant as “a thank you, and to get the word out.”

The nonprofit has been supported by grants, private donations, businesses and organizations, among them Molina Healthcare and the Rotary Club of Everett, which provided a multi-year local impact grant. Previous sponsors include Sno-Isle Food Co-Op, Coastal Community Bank and Ideal Option.

Ed Petersen, a Housing Hope founder and Everett Rotary member, first encountered the Recovery Cafe while part of Everett’s Community Streets Initiative task force in 2014. The cafe, which hadn’t yet opened, was seeking support. With all it’s done since, Petersen said, the cafe has shown how the support it’s received has been put to use. “People want to make a difference,” he said.

Grove said there are now about 150 members. “With the terrible, heartbreaking overdose deaths, we have more work to do,” she said.

She credited Scott Benham, operations manager with Grandview Inc., an Arlington-based home building company, with helping finish the project. It took “in-kind help, legislators, sweat, ingenuity and vision,” Grove said.

“This was a big undertaking,” said Benham, adding that Mike Grove, Wendy’s husband, was there to help “day in and day out.”

“Addiction, mental illness and homelessness are affecting us all,” Benham said. “Something like this is good for us all.”

Julie Muhlstein: jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com

Learn more

More information: www.everettrecoverycafe.org

Tours of the Everett Recovery Cafe, 1212 California St., will be conducted at 5 p.m. May 11 and May 25. To reserve a space, by the Friday before the date, email katya@everettrecoverycafe.org

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