Standing behind the bar at Seattle’s Cafe Racer this morning, employee Leonard Meuse rubbed his eyes and said that he could barely sleep last night.
Although tired, Meuse, who was wounded when Ian Stawicki opened fire inside the University District cafe on May 30, ran around the refurbished and spruced up eatery. He didn’t skip a beat when there were empty coffee cups to fill and a slew of breakfast orders to address. When the doors opened at 8 a.m., Meuse and the rest of the staff had the coffee ready and the griddle hot for their first official day of business seven weeks after four people were killed and Meuse was wounded.
Meuse, 46, ran up and down the stairs serving breakfast, offering a handshake and a grin to longtime and new customers. His parents and his brother’s family were on hand to offer their support.
Stawicki, 40, shot five people at the cafe that day, killing: Joe Albanese, 52; Drew Keriakedes, 45; Kimberly Layfield, 38; and Donald Largen, 57. Stawicki then drove downtown and where he killed Gloria Leonidas, 52, near Town Hall, when he carjacked her Mercedes-Benz SUV. He fatally shot himself that day on a West Seattle sidewalk
Cafe employee Nancy Neyhart, who brought her 4-year-old son to work for the grand opening, said that “It just feels different … There’s a giant hole.”
Neyhart said the Cafe Racer shootings inspired her to leave her catering job at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and return to her old position at Cafe Racer.
Speaking of those who died there, she said, “Those guys were so incredible, all four of them, so full of life and energy.”
Running in from the rain, Ali Daniali peeled off his soaked raincoat and ordered a cup of coffee to go. He had never been to the cafe before, but found it important to stop by for the grand opening.
“I wanted to show support to the people who work here,” he said, offering kind words and a handshake to Meuse.