By Mandi Donohue

While interviewing Rick and Missy LeDuc for “a story for another time,” Rick mentioned Diane “Duck” Costales. Previous owner of Duck Brand Cantina in Winthrop, she is responsible for the construction and landscaping of the Mazama Store’s greatly used and much appreciated patio. The LeDucs had an idea of what they wanted, but her ability to pull it together has made it what it is today. “She had a vision and she shared that,” Rick said.  “She said this would be a community gathering place.”

Since its construction, the Mazama Store’s patio has seen some things, tens of thousands of people perhaps. Halloween festivities, wedding brunches, pizza nights and the currently running Beer & Brats Night for starters. After two full days of painting the house, Lliam and I were in great relief to have someone else cook for us. We met a friend that night for beer and brats on the patio and, albeit brief, it was such a nice time.

There’s something about the laziness and relaxation of brat night that I so appreciate.  Everyone’s been out and about all day, playing hard in the hot summer sun (or stuck inside for lackluster home renovation, while probably sniffing too much paint). But come 5 p.m., these sun-ravaged, hard-worked bodies in their flip-flops get to celebrate the day, relax and laugh on the patio. Not to mention, you always run into somebody you’re not expecting. (This time, I ran into Tammy Neilsen, who was home visiting her son but has been back in Stehekin for the summer working as a flagger while Stehekin’s roads get paved).

But, truly, it’s just such a laid-back and yummy way to have dinner.  The breeze is cool as folks gingerly make their way up to order yummy salads, burgers, brats, beer and ice cream. Lliam and I split a burger, fries and a salad. They always have great burgers and fries, but I loved the salad especially: a Greek salad with quinoa and feta, with two stuffed grape leaves on the top. Props to Claire, Marielle and Marc LeDuc, who are the “brainchildren” behind brat night’s success and are always changing it up. Yum!

I believe Diane was right about the patio. It is a community gathering. Like the store itself, it is an old friend. It’s comforting, relaxing and a place where you can hang out and be yourself.  Don’t miss Brat Night — Fridays and Saturdays for a limited time.