The restaurant was named the Run -a- Muck Cafe, Bakery and Spirits; a 30-year dream ever since Lisa Riley graduated from Mount Si High School.
Today it sits as a rubble pile on North Bend Way, a constant reminder of the thunderous, eerie sound that changed everything for Lisa and other business owners one early April morning.
Replaying the Last Night
Lisa was the last one inside the Run-a-Muck, Thursday, April 24, 2014. She left around 6:30PM after showing off the nearly finished restaurant to her daughter. Everything was fine inside. Lisa said there was absolutely no gas smell.
Afterward, on the way home to Duvall, her partner and son were in a car accident and spent hours at Overlake Hospital. Exhausted, Lisa said she finally fell into bed around midnight, only to be awoken by a call from her mother at 4AM telling her the restaurant was gone – a massive explosion had destroyed the building that held her life’s dream.
Dream Near Completion
It was a restaurant dream days away from becoming reality, backed by years of planning and five months of round-the-clock work on the building Lisa says was out of code and in desperate need of renovation.
Almost everything was done. Family and longtime contractor friends chipped in. All that remained was to install the kitchen appliances, which was scheduled for the Tuesday following the explosion. Thousands of dollars of professional kitchen equipment was sitting in the building – waiting to complete the restaurant.
Lisa and her partner Casey invested about $150,000 in the building renovation, including a large chunk of money to bring the space up to code – like new plumbing and heating duct work, hot water tank and a whole new kitchen. Lisa said the work was inspected and signed off on every step of the way. She was strict about safety and following code. In fact, she said contractors teased her about being ‘the code lady.’
When asked if the King County Fire Investigation Unit had pinpointed the cause of the explosion, Lisa said not that she’d heard and that she didn’t want to speculate on the cause. She commented that the men doing the investigation “know how to do their jobs” and she would leave it to them to find the facts. She explained she doesn’t believe in rumors or guessing, as it can end up hurting someone.
When asked if she had insurance, she said, no, it wasn’t in place yet. She explained that her insurance policy (full and without riders) was dependent upon the owner of the destroyed building completing his part of the renovations. She stated because those owner renovations had not yet occurred, her insurance policy wasn’t in place at the time of the suspected natural gas explosion.
So Lisa sits… a little bit numb, not quite knowing where to go and how to start over, dealing with overwhelming debt; debt to all the family and friends who helped her come so close to realizing her restaurant dream AND financial debt.
The Would Haves
Lisa Riley can list off things that she was going to do, starting this May, with her restaurant.
The Run-a-Muck was going to be about the community. It was going to help parents sitting at the nearby ball fields feed their family with to-go catered brown bag dinners. Lisa had committed to supporting Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life and hosting the Mount Si High School Class of 1984 30-year reunion this summer.
There was going to be featured guest chefs and customer recipes on the menu. The restaurant was going to be a place that felt like home, with what Lisa calls an ‘everyone knows your name attitude.’
Knocked Down, Fighting to Get Up
Lisa isn’t giving up, though. She knows she’s been knocked down, even held down temporarily by the traumatic explosion, but she’s spent her life getting up, being a fighter. It’s how she was raised; part of Valley life when you’re one of nine children with six older brothers she says.
When asked what her next steps are Lisa simply said, “Rebuild. Start over and bring to the community a place I have always wanted there.”
Lisa said the Run-a-Muck is as much about the people as it is the place – seeing friends, family and people pass through its doors celebrating life; seeing her kids work there – and her getting a “little piece in sharing that.” That’s her dream to rebuild.
Lisa’s longtime friends and family are trying to help her move forward, start the dream over. Last week they launched a fundraiser, with the hope of helping her pay off the business loan that got the Run-a-Muck so close to opening – so the rebuilding can start.
And that is what Lisa wants to do. Start digging out of the rubble so that sometime in the near future she can finally welcome the Snoqualmie Valley through the doors of her dream restaurant.
In the wake of the explosion, Lisa says she will always be grateful, adding she “could not have imagined this much love and support. The community has been open arms, sympathetic and caring.”
To learn more or donate visit the online Lisa Riley Disaster Fund.