By Sally Gracie
Alejandro and Christina Lopez kept their Twisp restaurant (on Highway 20 at Twisp Avenue) in operation while fire threatened the town and the lights were out for eight days. La Fonda Lopez was the only restaurant in town to stay open throughout except for that brief period Thursday evening, July 17, when they were hooking up the generator.
Christina said that at first La Fonda was practically dead in the daytime though at night they “got some tables. Everybody was leaving town,” she said. Because the power was out, most who stayed didn’t think any restaurants were open. Like most businesses in Twisp, La Fonda depends on visitors.
On Monday, July 21, the fourth day without power for many, a steady stream of patrons came through La Fonda’s door at suppertime. Joe Warner and his wife, Kaki, the novelist who lives in Carlton, said they were “so happy” to find a place to eat out. Their house had survived the fires, but more than 50 acres of their land burned.
Christina says she got more than a few thank yous from patrons like the Warners, who were grateful to sit down at a table to be served a good meal and a glass of wine.
“Due to the power outage we are taking cash or local check only” was printed at the top of the limited menu. Alejandro selected seven customer favorites to prepare, including a classic Caesar salad and a chicken nacho salad. Christina served all the tables.
KIRO 7 News reporter Joanna Small and cameraman Damien Glitch said they had visited the fire camp at Liberty Bell on Monday afternoon. As they sat eating their meal, as outsiders, they didn’t realize that La Fonda itself was a news story.
By Tuesday, July 22, La Fonda’s tables were mostly filled by locals who had heard that the Lopezes were open. Smoke had cleared on the valley floor, encouraging two groups to sit at tables on the patio. “Once they had figured it out [that La Fonda was open for business], we got a little bit busy,” said Christina, but “still not as much as usual.” That weekend, after the power had come back, business was “really good,” she added.
Monday, July 28, found La Fonda employee Colin Fonda working the griddle and fry pans behind the counter. Instead of cooking at La Fonda last week, Colin was busy saving his home at the foot of Finley Canyon. To draw water to fight the fire, he ran a (very long) hose across the road and over the burned-out strip of land to lower Beaver Creek. “It was touch and go,” Colin said. When it was over, the fire had burned “way too close.”
La Fonda is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. I say, let’s keep La Fonda’s tables full through the summer! Good people; good food!