‘I Got Off the Phone and Bawled’

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Tana Baumler of Snohomish, Washington, was in a bind. Owner of a local cafe for 33 years, Baumler faced closure because of the impact shutdown orders had on her business.

But her cafe, The Maltby Cafe, isn’t just a restaurant. Taking form in a 1937-era schoolhouse, the local spot is near and dear to residents’ hearts, and Baumler herself is known for her generosity.

Besides employing 45 people, Baumler raises funds for children’s schools and homes in India, and during Hurricane Katrina, she offered to travel and cook.

But after yet another shutdown, the cafe’s chances were looking grim. The rent was coming up, as was the $10,000 bill for her employees’ health care premiums, and she felt beaten.

“For the last two months I’ve just been sick knowing we were close to closing down,” she said, according to KIRO-TV. “We’re exhausted. We’ve worked, and it’s not enough. And I’m an old Montana girl. You work hard, you make it, you know, that’s the American dream.”

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“It was eating me up alive. I was just down on my knees going, ‘Just give me a miracle.’”

But she decided to make one last push with an event she dubbed “Miracle on Maltby Street,” a Christmas extravaganza on Dec. 4, 5 and 6 that would at least give them memories if not a financial reprieve.

“What I felt was even if we couldn’t make it, I was going to go out fighting,” she explained, “and give the very, very best experience to all our regulars that have been here forever and create a Christmas memory.”

The post went up on the cafe’s Facebook page announcing that reservations were open.

“Private dining on the balcony with your own fire pit and cozy area to enjoy,” the caption read. “Santa sightings and all your favorite menu items. Event specialty menu served by Santa’s elves. Cookie decorating trays, hot cocoa bar & holiday cocktails available for purchase.”

Loved as the cafe is, Baumler wasn’t the only one scrambling to save the local spot. A GoFundMe was started, and soon people started pledging money to keep the cafe alive.

“Dearest Community,” the page said. “The Maltby Café has joyously served the community for over 36 years. Small family run businesses have suffered greatly in these past months and The Maltby Café is one of those small family businesses that is struggling to stay open.”

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“They are working valiantly to withstand the environment we are all learning to navigate, however with the continuation of rent, health insurance, and other operating costs against the inability to open at full capacity they are sliding backwards.”

The campaign has raised over $36,000 so far, which gave Baumler some room to breathe, recoup and jump back in.

“I got off the phone and bawled because I went ‘We can make it,” she said. “‘There’s a chance we can do this.’”

“I’m humbled, beyond humble. I can’t believe this is happening, and I’m so excited because, you know what? No one’s going to be out of health insurance for December, January or February maybe.

“It truly is a miracle and I just can’t even tell you how that feels.”

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