Owner of Maltby Cafe believes beloved breakfast spot will survive

The beloved Maltby Cafe saw a 90% drop in business when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

MALTBY, Wash. — The food at the Maltby Cafe is so legendary, customers are happy to use their car trunks as tables and eat outside on a 40 degree morning.

That's what Brad Faulhaber and Daniel Ray are doing this week.

They've been coming to the cafe for 20 years, and they're not going to let a pandemic keep them away.

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"You mask up, eat in the parking lot and do your duty," Ray said. 

The Maltby Cafe operates out of an old schoolhouse dating back to the 1930s.

It has become one of the most popular restaurants in the region, famous for their homemade, country-style food, all-day breakfast and cinnamon rolls the size of your face.

"This is one of those places that when a friend or a relative comes into town, your first thought is, 'I'm gonna take them to The Maltby Cafe for breakfast,'" Ray remarked. 

But when COVID-19 hit, the business lost 90% of its revenue.

The dining room, covered with framed autographs of celebrity customers from Jim Lambright to Joel McHale, sat empty for months.

When the second shut down came, co-owner Tana Baulmer resigned herself to the reality that she would have to close the restaurant permanently after 33 years.

Baulmer recalls, "I got on my knees and I cried and I said, 'God, I need a miracle.'"

A former dishwasher herself, Baulmer's only goal at that point was to stay open through the holidays so she could keep providing paychecks and health insurance to her staff.

"We have a lot of employees," she said. "What are they gonna do for rent? What are they gonna do for Christmas?"

When word got out about the restaurant closing its doors, customers who were comforted by the cafe's food all these years, began offering comfort themselves.

Orders started pouring in -- more than the staff has seen since before the pandemic.

Baulmer started to believe.

"Maybe a miracle will happen," she thought out loud.

Just as she spoke those words, a dear friend and customer walked in with a piece of paper in his hand.

It was a check for $5,000.

"There's a little part of your miracle," he said, before giving Baulmer a hug.

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"I'm just so excited. I'm elated," she said with a hand over her heart.

One week can make a big difference.

As loyal customers and donations continue coming in, Baulmer now believes the restaurant will survive.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $124,000.

Baulmer calls it her "Miracle at Maltby" -- just in time for Christmas.

"I feel very humbled by this," she said as donations came in. "I see the light at the end of the tunnel."

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