Paisley Finicum’s birthday was Thursday, but that didn’t stop her and dad Kevin from continuing the celebration on Friday.
The 7-year-old and her father marked the occasion with breakfast at Alta’s Burger Bar. Paisley with pancakes and bacon; Kevin with an omelet and hash browns.
The burger joint, a staple in the Smith River community, reopened last week more than a year after a fire in a neighboring building permanently changed the face of Smith River.
Kevin, who would frequent Alta’s as a kid, was happy to bring his daughter there.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I’m happy it’s open.”
Vanda Reichlin, who took over the restaurant in 1998 from the original owner, Alta Leishman, has been rebuilding since the May 6, 2017 blaze. The fire started in the old Hollis Market at the intersection of First Street and Fred Haight Drive before spreading to four other buildings, including a neighboring hotel and Alta’s. Flames from the fire even crossed Fred Haight Drive and caught the roof of the Bank Tavern on fire.
Reichlin said rebuilding her restaurant has been challenging, but “everybody’s been great.” She officially reopened on Sept. 27.
“It’s been crazy the last four days,” she said.
Reichlin said Alta’s Burger Bar has become such a significant part of the Smith River community that when she’s busy her customers know to get their own coffee. Sometimes they wash their own dishes, Reichlin said.
“If I get busy they all jump in and help; that hasn’t changed and I really appreciate everything they do,” she said. “I appreciate the help everybody has done to get me back to where I am. There’s too many to name.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .