KAREN MUNSELL/PHOTOStaff shortages and other pandemic-related issues brought an end to the local legend.

COTTAGE GROVE – Well, the news is out, so to speak. There were more than 100 comments this past Friday on one local social media website regarding the Koffee Kup restaurant in the Village Shopping Center and its permanent closure. This was confirmed by Michael Gottlieb, son of the owners of the restaurant. The owners have struggled keeping enough staff to serve the customers in the manner they have become accustomed to – good service, and your coffee cup filled. There have been problems hiring enough cooks to efficiently handle the kitchen.  

 At the height of the pandemic, they closed for a while, then opened with outdoor dining. But, as I understand, the customer flow was also erratic, leading to the decision to close.

My association was as a customer and also one of many organizers of events in Cottage Grove since 1976. The Koffee Kup was always a convenient place to meet. It was the Ye Olde Pancake House back in the 1970s and ’80s. I believe Cheryl and her husband have owned the restaurant since 1996. For the many years I conducted orientation for the Rotary Club; I met with future Rotarians for breakfast or lunch for orientation into the club.

I remember one breakfast meeting at 8 a.m. with a recently retired businessman, Frank. He and his wife were new to the community. It was kind of a Green Acres-type of retirement for Frank. He had been a manager in the aerospace program, heading several different groups in that field, and wanted to retire on a little farm. Being new to the area, he had many questions about our community. After our one-hour orientation for Rotary, we had a conversation regarding the agriculture of the south valley, the Hemenway dairy farms, and the timber industry. We talked about the contribution of the Woodards, Weyerhaeuser, and Bohemia lumber industries to the community. We finally finished our final cup of coffee at 12:15 p.m. and left.

Wonderful memories of dozens of meetings over strawberry waffles, scrambled eggs, and pork chops. Many readers no doubt know Frank, as he went on to be a leader in the community, a volunteer, and a Rotary president. 

Many discussions regarding: Saving the Dr. Pierce Barn back in 1989. Hours of discussion about the early Bohemia Mining Days and its origination. When the subject of recreating and refurbishing the carousel for Cottage Grove came up, many one-on-one discussions with business leaders in Cottage Grove were held to get their opinion. If a committee were put together to rejuvenate the carousel, would it be successful? The project, attempted twice before, had failed. There were numerous meetings like these, strictly as a fact-finding mission, to find out if it would be worth the time and effort to form a committee. Many of these meetings were held at the Koffee Kup.

Upon my retirement from Weyerhaeuser, I met many times with fellow workers for breakfast or lunch at Koffee Kup. In later years, the second Monday of the month at 9 a.m. was reserved for a meeting with fellow workers who had been on my crews of saw fillers and millwrights and other maintenance personnel – mostly retired. It was a chance to get together and make more sawdust! The Weyerhaeuser loggers, road-building crew, mostly retired, also met once a month at the Kup in the back room.

These are only a few examples of what one person was involved with in community events and a chance to have a cup of coffee, scrambled eggs, and planning how to save a barn, build a carousel, or plan a Rotary event.

Recently several meetings were held with Karen to formulate the plans for the Food Feud, whereby restaurants in town developed a single menu item and a dollar from that menu item went to Bohemia Mining Days as a fundraiser. Also several meetings were held with Jennifer, Karen, and others to formulate and discuss the Grand Miners parade, children’s parade, and the bloomer parade for Bohemia Mining Days. I put these meetings to print, to emphasize the fact that all the above mentioned has to be led by someone, and a group to bring it to reality. I cannot emphasize enough the value of volunteerism to make all these things that we enjoy in our beautiful community happen. There is no magic wand. Only a will to give back to community and the pride of being a cog in a wheel that makes events happen.

This does not include oh-so-many breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, that Jean and I had with our daughter, Susan, at one of the many fine restaurants in Cottage Grove.

The pandemic raised its ugly head and disrupted many get-togethers. This includes the Kiwanis Morning club, that used to meet at 7 a.m. on Wednesdays. When they left, a Christian Bible group occupied the back room for its meetings.

Truly, the Koffee Kup and the Village Green Copper Rooster were the place for community organizers to meet, one on one, or in a group. 

I wish Cheryl and Larry the very best in their retirement. They have earned it. My thanks go to them and the staff that knew most everyone by their first name and how they wanted their meal prepared.