Business

The last sandwich

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After more than seven years as a community cornerstone, Lipperts’ Restaurant will close its doors on March 1. While Barbara Lippert is happy to start her retirement, she says that the transition is still difficult after having been so important to many residents in the community.

 

The change is bittersweet for Lippert, who has managed the mom and pop cafe for seven years, when she took over Jean’s Deli. She’s happy to have time for her other hobbies like photography, but at the same time says she’ll be sad to lose so many friends she’s made over the years.

 

Lipperts’ has been, in some form or another, a community fixture for more than two decades. Originating as Jean’s Deli on U.S. Highway 101 and Carlsborg Road, it relocated to Sequim proper in 1996 and Lippert took ownership after Jean Klahn retired in 2005.

 

Under her ownership, Lipperts’ Restaurant became even more of a fixture in the community, which customers attribute to the quality of the food and friendly service. Lippert operates the entire business with her daughter, Allison, running the floor, and Courtney Wells, a hired hand during peak hours. From her position in the kitchen, Lippert makes everything from sandwiches to omelets on site with fresh ingredients, almost completely by herself.

 

But running a restaurant like Lipperts’ with two people is a taxing job, and after seven years of homemade food, she’s ready to close the shop. Unfortunately, her customers aren’t as ready.

 

“Disappointed” was the first word to come to Merrilyn Shape’s mind. Shape, along with her husband, Bill, have been monthly customers at the restaurant for almost 15 years. “It’s an icon,” said Bill.

 

They say that the consistent quality of the food is part of what keeps them coming back, but it has more to do with how the staff make their customers feel like people instead of just another meal ticket. “It’s kind of like the show ‘Cheers,’” says Bill King, who has been coming to Jean’s and Lipperts’ with his wife, Kathy, since they moved to the area in the late 1980s. “Everybody knows your name!”

 

This service is what draws people like the Kings and the Shapes, who say that quality food is in supply in Sequim, but restaurants that make an extra effort to care for and know their customers always will have an edge. “They could have opened up in the back of their car,” said King, “and we would have come.” The draw isn’t just the good, homemade food of the restaurant, but the genuine and friendly service Allison and Barbara offer.

 

For several years, a retired army veteran came to eat at the restaurant at the same time each day and ordered the same meals. Allison soon knew what to put on order when he walked in the door. And he always took dessert home in a bag, so she would write him a nice message on the bag each time. While it was a small gesture for Allison, it meant a lot to the man, who saved every message in a scrapbook which he showed to the staff later.

 

“I think that some of our customers don’t have very active social lives,” said Allison, “so when they come here, it’s their social hour. And if I can sit down and talk with them for five or 10 minutes, it’s the least I can do.”

 

“I’m excited to retire, but it’s also kinda sad, because we’ve grown up with this place,” she says. “We’ve made lots of friends from this place, it’s sad to see them not be with us on a daily basis, they’re like family.” Lipperts’ will serve its last lunch on Thursday, Feb 28.

 

For now, Kim McDougal plans to take over the space and turn it into an evening venue, Blondie’s Plate. It will be a marked departure for the space and serve exclusively dinners from 4-9 p.m. She says it’ll focus on small serving plates, similar to a tapas plate in size, focused on using seasonal, local ingredients.

 

 

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