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Truffles hit by recession’s troubles: University Place sweetshop Affairs has closed

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on March 17, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
March 19, 2013 7:08 am

The sweet tooth has been pulled.

After 28 years serving customers from a small University Place storefront, the owner of Affairs Cafe and Bakery on Saturday posted the news along with her thanks.

Established in 1985 by Gay Landry and brother Scott Shriner – and after a devastating fire in 2000, and following the effects of a prolonged recession – Landry late last week made the decision to close.

She began a part-time retirement last April, moving on to work as a marketing representative for a memory-care center in Gig Harbor.

“I kept control of Affairs,” she said Sunday afternoon.

She gave management responsibilities to her son, Jesse, who later took a position in information technology. Management then went Landry’s daughter-in-law, who gave birth to a son in December.
“I didn’t really retire until yesterday,” Landry said.

The shop was known for its variety of handmade chocolate truffles, plus nut bars, pies, tarts, tortes, cakes, wedding cakes and cheesecake. The cafe also offered a catering service and served an upscale breakfast and lunch menu, with items ranging from crab cakes benedict to a signature Monte Cristo sandwich.

As she sat inside speaking with a reporter Sunday, she excused herself to greet, and then hug, a customer who stood in tears reading a closure notice taped to the front door.

“I’ve been expecting this since the recession,” Landry said, returning to a darkened dining room. “This business deserves to be here because it’s part of the local culture. People deserve to have it. I couldn’t make it happen.”

While she thanked her customers, Landry blamed debt and a lack of patronage as the recession loomed.
“I’ve wracked my brain as to why a restaurant can’t survive in University Place,” she said.

She said she will donate the remaining perishables to local food banks. Most of the confections will be given to her wholesaler, while the bulk of the furniture, fixtures and equipment will likely become the property of her bank. She will retain the family heirlooms that had been part of Affairs’ decor.

The extra time she sees ahead may allow her to finally compose a cookbook she’s been thinking of for some years.

“I’ve still got a few ideas in mind,” she said. “In the end, I did what I set out to do. I worked with a lot of chocolate, fed a lot of people, raised a family, supported my family and made a lot of people happy. And I’ve employed hundreds of people over the years.”

Jesse, she said, “was 2 when we opened. He turned 30 on Friday.”

Landry recalls many of her customers, and especially noted the late Gov. Booth Gardner, River Phoenix, k.d. Lang and Queen Latifah.

She recalls a former employee whose nickname, “Mouse,” one day led to some difficulty when she loudly called to him several times across the kitchen – only to be reminded that some 30 diners were seated at a banquet on the other side of the door.

“So many people have done so much for this business,” she said. “Even if you bought a truffle, once, or if you came here every Sunday, you helped.”

Ironically, or perhaps as an omen, a customer had recently signed the last page of a guest book Landry had set out after the 2000 fire.

“I guess it’s time,” she said.

“I don’t know how to close a business. I just know how to open them.”

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