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It’s open season for declaring ‘official’ 2015 U.S. Open status

Lexus supplies the official cars for the U.S. Open. IBM provides the prestigious golf tournament’s official Web site. Want to dine at the official eatery of the 2015 U.S. Open? Try the Pine Cone Cafe in University Place.

The reader board outside the 57-year-old diner proclaims it the “official eatery” for the tournament coming to nearby Chambers Bay. So it must be true, right?

Well …

“I tell people that ‘official eatery’ is in quotes, which kind of makes it official,” said Steve Warp, the cafe’s owner for the last 21 years.

Warp says he overhears customers pointing out the sign as they remark seriously on their good fortune at finding such a prominent cafe. He watches customers take photographs of each other in front of the sign. And he listens to their admonitions.

“Some people tell me I might in get in trouble” with the U.S. Golf Association, overseer of the U.S. Open golf championship, Warp said. The USGA formally announced last month that Pierce County’s one-year-old golf course, Chambers Bay, would host the Open championship in 2015.

If the USGA mails Warp a cease-and-desist letter ordering the sign’s removal, you can expect to see the letter enlarged to poster size and mounted prominently in the cafe lobby.

If no letter arrives? “I don’t have to change my reader board for the next seven years,” Warp said.

Don’t miss the point behind the unofficial official sign. He doesn’t think the greater University Place community – business owners and residents – understands the magnitude of the U.S. Open’s value and impact.

“University Place is blessed,” Warp said. “Somebody who doesn’t follow golf doesn’t realize it’ll be the premier sporting event in the world for that week.

“It’s a full week of tens of thousands of people coming here every day. Hundreds of media from all over the world will be here,” he said. “It’s a big dang deal.”

Warp should know. He and some buddies attended the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, Calif. – although he didn’t get to see Tom Kite win the tournament on the last day. Warp had to leave California early to get back to the Pine Cone to help out with the Sunday breakfast rush.

“Sunday is our busiest day,” he explained.

Come the week of June 11, 2015, you won’t find Warp at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. You’ll find him at the Pine Cone in cap and knickers – traditional Scottish golfing attire – as an ode to the country that invented modern golf and a nod to Chambers Bay, built in the treeless, shoreline design of Scottish courses.

Warp plans to restyle his cafe in Scotland golf décor, pare the menu to fewer offerings with golf-related names, and staff up with servers wearing Scottish uniforms.

For starters, if you visit the Pine Cone today and order an “Arnold Palmer,” you’ll get a glass of half iced tea, half lemonade. Palmer, who won the 1960 U.S. Open, popularized the concoction.

Given Warp’s enthusiasm, you might suppose other businesses have jumped on the Open bandwagon.

“We’re the only ones in the whole hemisphere … paying tribute to a huge event,” Warp said.

If you read the hundreds of articles written about the U.S. Open coming to Chambers Bay, you would think the course sits inside Tacoma’s city limits. That’s just wrong. So perhaps University Place needs a little prodding to gin up a more spirited gusto for golf.

During a quick drive around the city last week, I counted 27 businesses and agencies with changeable reader boards that could attach themselves – as unofficially “official” – to the golf event.

How about these reader board suggestions? Follow each one with the phrase “of the 2015 U.S. Open.”

 • Affairs: Specializing in Doughnut Holes-in-One, The Official Baked Goods Supplier …

 • Floor Covering Express: The Official Red Carpet Provider …

 • Dental Professional Building: The Official Smile Enhancer …

 • Bartell Drugs: For Those Heart-Stopping Shots, The Official Nitro Pill Supplier …

 • Forza Coffee: The Official Caffeine Supplier …

 • Westside Community Bank: The Official Vault For The Winnings …

 • Central Baptist Church: Talking to God since 1893, The Official Prayer Conduit …

 • Capt. Nemo’s: The Official Ladies Night Venue (Tuesdays only) …

 • University Place Fire District No. 3: The Official Cardiopulmonary Resuscitator …

 • U.P. Station Bar & Grill: The Official Coronita Beer Bucket Supplier …

 • Tangles Salon: The Official Hair Coloration Stylist …

 • Windmill Village: The Official Future Town Center …

What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll get a cease-and-desist letter that you can frame and hang in your lobby.

Dan Voelpel: 253-597-8785

dan.voelpel@thenewstribune.com

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