Ranch House BBQ pitmaster Amy Anderson, peering into her her old smoker.
Ranch House BBQ has picked itself up, dried itself off and accepted the kindness of strangers. Now it's working on recovering its business and customers following a mudslide that destroyed the barbecue palace on the outskirts of Olympia.
Owners Amy Anderson and Melanie Tapia and their staff have been cleaning up the restaurant space in downtown Olympia's Governor Hotel. The space was donated to Ranch House by the vice president of the hotel.
"They've offered us free rent and free utilities until we get back on our feet," Anderson said.
Anderson said she hopes to open on Jan. 4.
After the mudslide, Anderson and Tapia closed their 6-month-old take-out-only satellite location up the street on Capitol Way. They'll focus on the new location, which the Southern Kitchen restaurant vacated earlier this year. They're busy cleaning and installing new equipment.
The Dec. 3 mudslide demolished Ranch House's 4-year-old location.
"It's a disaster," Anderson said. "It's very depressing."
She estimated damages at $4-5 million. None of it is covered by insurance. She's not getting federal disaster assistance either.
Some things were rescued: Ranch House's barbecue trophies and ribbons ("They were on a higher shelf," Anderson said).
There's also good news for 22 Ranch House employees: they're all coming back to work, and they've received state unemployment and federal disaster assistance.
But bad news for barbecue lovers in Grays Harbor County: they'll have to drive farther for the finest barbecue in their part of the 360.
"I'm gonna lose about 50 percent of my Grays Harbor business," Anderson said. "So I'm adding a steak program – porterhouses and things, like a real steakhouse. We're in a hotel. The prices will be a little higher. I think Olympia will support that."
Anderson ordered her new $10,000 smoker yesterday. It should arrive before Christmas.
Ranch House BBQ: 621 Capitol Way S, Olympia. Target opening: Jan. 4.
Ranch House BBQ co-owner Melanie Tapia, right, is consoled after a mudslide hit her restaurant. Associated Press photo.