It’s too late for a Spud Feast or a Shake and Eggs breakfast or one of the coveted cinnamon rolls at Mae’s Phinney Ridge Cafe. The cow-themed spot that boasted a line out the door for generations of weekend brunchers closed its doors on Sunday. An open house and cash-only garage sale is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at the cafe at 6412 Phinney Ave. N., for those who want to say goodbye or pick up paintings and “Graze at Mae’s” mugs or other tchotchkes. (Owner Jeanne Mae Barwick calls it all “moo-morabilia.)
The breakfast-and-lunch cafe has been around as long as the 1920s building, Barwick said. “It was called the Phinney Ridge Cafe until I came along in 1988 and made it Mae’s Phinney Ridge Cafe.” Barwick is from Wisconsin — “so I brought the cows,” a decorating theme that was amplified when everyone who had decorated their home kitchens in Holsteins started remodeling in the 1990s. The quirky space has been heralded over the years on lists of Seattle’s great comfort food spots, and best breakfasts, and most tacky, and most cozy.
Barwick said she put Mae’s on the market about six weeks ago, and is still looking for the right buyer. There’s been a lot of interest, but no exact fit yet, she said — and she was ready to close the doors. “I still have a few years of work ahead of me, but I feel that the restaurant business is very taxing physically and mentally. I want something that’s less stress-filled,” she said.
“I feel lucky to have been in this place and had this time on Phinney Ridge. I’ve made a lot of fabulous friends and found a lot of great volunteer opportunities,” she said. She’s been — and will continue to be — the host of karaoke bingo at the Greenwood Senior Center, as well as volunteering at the Phinney Neighborhood Center and the Greenwood Art Walk and all manner of other events. She’ll stay in the area, she said, and she’ll stay involved.
Is she going to save anything from Mae’s for herself? “Just a very few things. I”m not allowed to bring stuff home anymore!”
On Mae’s final day, an unseasonably beautiful spring Sunday, the lines weren’t as long as normal, Barwick said. In the end, it was a good thing. “We had to spend a lot of time taking care of the customers who were coming in crying.”