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Bellingham’s iconic Horseshoe Cafe set to reopen

The remodeled Horseshoe Cafe is pictured on Wednesday, June 17, in downtown Bellingham. The restaurant is set to reopen under new ownership on Friday, June 19.
The remodeled Horseshoe Cafe is pictured on Wednesday, June 17, in downtown Bellingham. The restaurant is set to reopen under new ownership on Friday, June 19. The Bellingham Herald

The Horseshoe Cafe is back, refreshed and ready to serve customers again.

The new owners are planning to reopen the longtime restaurant at 7:30 a.m. Friday, June 19, said co-owner Barb Groen. Once open, hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

The restaurant at 113 E. Holly St. closed earlier this year as the new owners took over and have spent months attempting to restore “The Shoe” back to what it was in the 1960s. That included opening up the kitchen area so customers can see the cooks at work, as well as redoing the walls and revamping the menu. They have also built a breakfast bar along the front window area, so people can watch what’s going on outside while eating.

The new ownership group is a family with strong local ties: Brian Waller, Barb Groen, Kate Groen, Joe Russell and Adam Groen. Waller and Barb Groen are the operators of The Beaver Inn bar next door.

The Horseshoe’s Ranch Room bar area is relatively unchanged, except for some updates to make it easier for workers to get around the bar itself. The local western artwork and murals remain in place.

The menu includes serving breakfast all day and typical diner food such as sandwiches and burgers, Barb Groen said. Some of the signature dishes include fresh biscuits and sausage gravy, chicken fried steak and chicken strips. Milkshakes and ice cream from Edaleen Dairy also are on the menu. Groen said they are using fresh, local ingredients when possible across the entire menu.

While the remodel took longer than expected, Barb Groen said they are pleased with how it has turned out. The surprises that extended the time to remodel were fairly typical of a building that’s more than 100 years old. She recalls one day when they were scrubbing a wall and the drywall came apart and needed to be replaced.

They’ve also been pleased with the positive feedback from the community regarding the remodel. They’ve listened to some great stories, particularly from former employees, adding support to their decision to restore the restaurant.

The Horseshoe first opened in 1886 and for much of its existence operated as a blue-collar place to hang out for drinks and food. Barb Groen said the new owners want the refurbished restaurant to have a family-friendly atmosphere during the day, as well as be a nightlife hangout, even after the bars close. The owners are mindful of the reputation the Horseshoe has had as a trouble spot and want to change that perception, which includes enforcing the no-loitering rule outside the restaurant.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com.

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