A longtime restaurant that served as a popular hangout for locals will be closing at the end of February.
The Hungry Bear restaurant at 4965 Mount Baker Highway did not have its lease renewed and is scheduled to have its last day on Monday, Feb. 29.
It’s the second recent blow to the Deming community, which is also dealing with the abrupt closure of the Nooksack River Casino in December.
The restaurant draws in hungry customers with Carol’s Cinnamon Rolls and its Grizzly Burger, but perhaps it is most well known for being a gathering place for local residents talking about local stuff, said Vickie Henderson, who runs the eatery with her mom, Barbara Bruland. Bruland took ownership of the business 24 years ago; previously the restaurant operated for several years under the same name.
“If it wasn’t for our regulars, we wouldn’t have made it this far,” Henderson said, joking that there are periods in the morning and early afternoon where she hardly has to give out menus as people walk in the restaurant.
With The Hungry Bear opening each day at 7 a.m., Henderson said there is usually a group of loyal customers waiting to start off the day with breakfast in their regular chairs, getting caught up on the news around town.
“It really is a place like ‘Cheers,’” Henderson said, referring to the popular television show about a Boston bar where everyone knows your name. “If someone hasn’t showed up for a couple days, we start calling around to find out what’s going on.”
Henderson said the reason they lost their lease is because the owner has other plans for the building. She isn’t sure what those plans are, and efforts to reach building owner Kathey Chambers for comment were unsuccessful.
Henderson said they plan on taking the Hungry Bear name with them and reopen somewhere else in the area. Her mom, 78, works there six days a week and wants to keep working, Henderson said.
Along with the regular customers, Henderson said she’ll miss the occasional visitors, like those who made their annual trek into the area to get a Christmas tree, with the children running into the restaurant to give its two big stuffed toy bears a hug.
Henderson said they are planning some sort of goodbye party for their customers, with details coming soon. The restaurant will maintain its regular hours of 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day. For further details about it, call 360-592-2396.