Last call for Snoqualmie hangout Isadora’s Café
January 5, 2011
By Sebastian Moraga
Jody Sands said, on her last day as owner of Isadora’s Café, that she felt fulfilled and grateful for two years of community support.
Nevertheless, when a friend approached her with a box of tissues, she accepted it, knowing that she might need it later.
“Tonight is all about the love of this place,” she said. “The love we have for each other and the love we have for this community.”
Sands, her husband Michael and several musicians, artists and coffee lovers bade farewell to the iconoclastic spot on Railroad Avenue that closed its doors Dec. 31, with a party that was part celebration and part wake.
Jody and Michael owned Isadora’s for two years, and although they had big plans for January, a string of winter afternoons with empty tables brought those plans back to earth.
“No business, no money,” Michael said. “We weren’t making any money for the last couple of weeks.”
Jody first worked at Isadora’s back in the early 1990s, when it first opened, and it came to be hers almost 20 years later. Now, it was hers to close down for the last time, until February, when the place reopens as a community theater.
“It’s going to remain in the arts,” Michael said, “I hope the place continues to be an enclave for artists and musicians.”
Several musicians appeared one last time on the last night of the year. Many had become regulars over time.
Ask Sophie, the band that headlined the Dec. 31 show, performed about eight times during the past three years, said band member Joe Burgener, who praised the café’s commitment to the arts.
“In lots of places you can find ‘open mics,’” he said. “You can’t find them with as much variety as you did here, from accomplished to novice.”
Another musician was Michael Antone, who recorded a song on Isadora’s piano that Neil Young later featured on his antiwar website.
Antone, a childhood friend of Jody’s, and many other musicians found a spot in the owners’ hearts.
“Isadora’s played such a role in cultivating the arts in the Valley, it’s sad to see it close its doors, heart-breaking in a way,” Jody said. “I felt a sense of responsibility to the community to keep the doors open, so I feel kind of like I let the community down.”
But Jody refused to stay sad. Instead, she focused on the new owners, Black Dog Community Theatre.
“It’s something fresh and exciting,” she said. “It’s time for Isadora’s to rest.”
And if it came time for a final song for Isadora’s, it would be somber, but not too sad, either, Burgener said.
“We’ve had an awful lot of fun here,” he said.
Still, Isadora’s closing means one more empty storefront in Snoqualmie’s struggling downtown and one fewer place for people to meet.
“It’s really hard to see them go under,” performer Jason Winona said. “This town is changing. Affluent people are moving in, the industries have left. Lots of people who enjoy doing live music have left and gone elsewhere where it’s more supported.”
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.