Community rallies to raise money for Village Restaurant workers displaced by fire

MARYSVILLE – A fundraiser to benefit employees of the landmark Village Restaurant that went up in flames Feb. 19 had longtime diners and pie lovers opening their wallets to help out Thursday.

Attendees brought stories, memories, donations and gift cards to the “It Takes a Village” fundraiser to help the restaurant’s 20 displaced employees while they’re out of work.

Another local restaurant, Fanny’s, opened its doors to host the fundraiser.

Jonnie Finley worked at the Village Restaurant for 22 years before she was laid off in January. She served as a waitress and remained through ownership changes.

When she heard about the fire, “I was devastated for all my friends and co-workers.”

She hopes that the money raised will provide an extra boost to the unemployment that employees will receive.

Serge Brown is one of the original owners of Fanny’s Restaurant. He also bartended at the Village. Hosting the fundraiser was an easy decision, he said.

“Local eateries watch out for each other, and actually many of the employees working at the Village had also worked at Fanny’s at one time or another,” he said, adding people don’t often realize how just how “hand to mouth” restaurant and service workers live in terms of a steady income.

“To lose a job under any circumstances is just devastating,” Brown said.

Several local restaurants provided food for the fundraiser. Glenn Smith was among those who helped deliver the food to the event, and was more than happy to step in for a restaurant that was part of his family’s memories.

Smith said he and his wife were season-ticket holders for the Village Theatre in Everett for years. When the show got out, they always stopped by the Village for pie.“Lemon meringue was my favorite,” he said.

Ruth Claussen and her friends have dined at the Village as far back as she can remember. She was shocked when she heard that her favorite gathering spot burned down.

“I was very sad,” Claussen said. “I always liked the food, the atmosphere, the service and of course, the pies. Apple was always my personal favorite.”

Claussen said she hopes the Village is able to reestablish itself in Marysville.

The fundraiser also featured a silent auction with numerous desserts, pies and choice steaks. The amount raised was unavailable.

The fire caused about $1 million in damage to the restaurant. The cause of the blaze has not been announced yet.

The restaurant will reopen soon, but temporarily in Everett at the vacant Majestic Cafe in downtown Everett, said Mitch Carseon, who worked as entertainment manager in the bar part after a remodel at the Village a few months ago.

Supporters have set up an online donation page at gofundme.com/3f7p2ig.