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One ton of tradition: Restaurant relocates 40-year-old oven in move from Bellevue to Mercer Island

The owner of Pogacha says the intricate task of moving the restaurant's one-ton, handmade Tuscan-style oven across cities is worth the effort.

MERCER ISLAND, Wash. — Pogacha restaurant was a popular spot in Bellevue, and then 2020 came calling.

An expiring lease in February compounded with the coronavirus pandemic closures in March meant that owners Brad and Lisa Cassidy couldn't stay in their Bellevue location.

Brad Cassidy said leaving that Bellevue location was out of his hands, but there was one thing they would not leave behind.

The restaurant was built around a wood-fired Tuscan oven that Cassidy wasn’t prepared to abandon.

So how do you extract and move a nearly 40-year-old hand made oven? With plenty of muscle and hired professionals.

The one-ton oven is not only personal to the owners but it’s full of history. It’s named “Peka” after a Croatian cooking method. 

Pogacha is known for hand-rolled wood-fired southeastern European-style pogacha bread, and the couple estimate that Peka has baked around 1.4 million of those "pogies," as well as 1 million pizzas and 1.2 million sandwich buns.

“That’s around three-and-a-half million handmade items and there was no way we weren’t gonna bring her with us to the new location,” Cassidy said.

The removal process was more of a demolition, so Peka spent time being restored in Everett before being transported to Mercer Island for installation.

Pogacha hopes to be serving food again by Dec. 3.