Corkscrew in hand, Bärbel Ward stood behind the newly renovated bar at Spring Lake Cafe in Fircrest on Thursday.
“I’m ready to open the wine,” the waitress called out in her thick German accent.
It was the end of an era that began more than 90 years ago with the city’s founding as a dry town.
Fircrest kept its Prohibition-era alcohol ban even after state voters repealed blue laws in 1966. That is, until last year when voters approved lifting the ban on selling liquor by the glass.
Spring Lake Cafe became the first business previously covered by the ban to get a liquor license in the city of 6,000 people.
But Thursday’s lunch crowd at the cafe on Regents Boulevard wasn’t jumping at the chance to be part of Fircrest history.
Today is like five years ago when we opened for the first time.
Scott Clement, owner and chef Spring Lake Cafe
Edna Lou Goodman and Doris Vandeberg, Tacoma residents who are regulars at the cafe, opted instead for coffee. It was a bit too early in the day.
“Lunch, no. Dinner, yes,” Goodman said of ordering wine. Vandeberg added, “We’re really looking forward to coming here for dinner.”
Technically, the cafe’s first glass of alcohol was poured on Mother’s Day when a handful of mimosas were served. But owner and chef Scott Clement and his service staff regarded Thursday as the official first day of beer and wine sales.
“Today is like five years ago when we opened for the first time,” said Clement, who campaigned to remove the ban. “It’s just so exciting. It’s so surreal.”
To celebrate the milestone, the cafe closed for three days this week to get a makeover. In addition to new paint and curtains, the cafe also sports a new sign: a neon Elysian Brewing sign in the front window. Wine glasses hang behind the bar and the front cooler is filled with local brews and chilled white Washington wine.
I’m ready to open the wine.
Bärbel Ward, waitress Spring Lake Cafe
Clement anticipates alcohol will boost his sales receipts up to 25 percent. He also hopes it will diversify his customer base.
Before alcohol sales were legal in Fircrest, Spring Lake had limited dinner service. The restaurant featured recurring monthly dinners such as German night and prime rib, but didn’t have a regular dinner menu.
To prepare for the transition to serving alcohol Clement added a dinner shift on Saturday and extended business hours Tuesday through Saturday to 8 p.m.
Ward, who has worked at Spring Lake for years, said she can’t wait for the restaurant’s next German dinner so that she can pour German wine and beer to complement meals.
“German food with no beer? Oh my!” said Ward who joked as a German it went against her nature not to offer beer or wine with dinner. “Now I need to bring my lederhosen!”