Just before 6 a.m. on Feb. 24, King Solomon's Reef in downtown Olympia caught fire. Again. Emergency vehicles and a news helicopter responded immediately - a stark contrast to the quiet, snowy morning.
"It was disbelief and panic at first," says Lindy McIntyre, co-owner of the Reef. "I remember wanting to get there faster but it was so icy out, it felt like a dream where you couldn't get where you were going."
The disbelief was widespread, bringing shock to the community. This was the second fire at the iconic Reef in just two and a half years. New owners, husband and wife Justin and Lindy McIntyre, along with Justin's brother, Matt, had re-opened about seven months earlier.
The fire caused significant smoke and water damage, and an initial account in The Olympian suggested the fire, "was probably caused by a malfunction in a dryer kept in the back," although the owners cannot confirm that at this time.
The extensive cleanup, repairs and dealings with insurance companies are only a few of the obstacles this family-owned business has to overcome.
"For me, not seeing our employees and customers regularly has been the hardest thing," says Lindy.
Voted "Best Bar Food," "Best Late Night Food," and "Best Re-opened Bar" in the Volcano's Best of Olympia 2011 issue, the Reef had 30 employees and thousands of fans.
That's a lot of people without their favorite food, and a lot of people without work.
"Some people haven't been able to get unemployment," says Reef employee Dawn Gilnett. "It's been hard."
Recognizing these hardships for the McIntyre's and their employees, Pit Kwiecinski, owner of The Brotherhood Lounge, decided to help, offering to host a Reef Benefit Show. (Full disclosure: I work at the Brotherhood; Oly's a small place.)
"It just seemed like the thing to do," says Kwiecinkski. "So many people want to help to do something, it seemed like a way for everyone to participate."
After deciding to help, Kwiecinski contacted music man James Maeda who "just ran with it," and rallied the support of 10 bands, including Zargent, Happy Noose and November Witch. Maeda also organized a raffle with prizes from local businesses.
"It really means the world to us," says Lindy. "Thank you to the bands, Pit and everyone involved in making this happen. The community response has been amazing. We feel very fortunate."
People have always been enamored with the dark and divey bar, late night coffee and homemade eats at the Reef. Now there is something else to add to the legend - survival of two fires. There is even a playful rumor the Reef is cursed.
"I heard the curse can only be broken by selling a million orders of chicken and waffles," jokes Justin McIntyre. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."
You heard the man - there's a lot of work to do, so get down to the Brotherhood, show some love and expect to be back in the Reef for your favorite drinks and meals in no time.
Donations will be accepted, with 100 percent of proceeds going to Reef employees and 50 percent of sales contributed to damage costs not covered by insurance.
Reef Benefit Show
with Zargent, The Narrows, h.p.p., November Witch, Son Skull, hysterics, The Family Stoned, Seagulls, Happy Noose, Greta Jane Jazz Quartet
Sunday, April 3, 6:30 p.m., $5-$5000
The Brotherhood Lounge
119 Capitol Way N. Olympia