SNOQUALMIE PASS – Red Mountain Coffee is one of those ski-resort shops that sells everything from polished rocks to T-shirts to snacks like pizza, coffee and cookies.
And it’s also become a hub for locals, state troopers and workers looking to repair the damage following this week’s avalanches on Snoqualmie Pass. The sudden closure of Interstate 90 on Tuesday left visitors to the ski slopes and workers who live down the pass stranded. Many businesses closed; most of Red Mountain’s employees live in the area and could report to work.
"Business has been a little bit slower, and it’s just kind of different here," said barista Sarrah Powers, a 16-year-old student at Mount Si High School. "We’ve been getting a lot more locals in here because their food is running out. And there are a lot more police officers and DOT workers – people who are trying to keep the road open."
The initial closure left dozens of people stranded in the restaurant. Owner Terri Harcus said she couldn’t just turn them away, so many stayed for hours until they could get an escort down the mountain.
"Every foot of space was taken up by somebody," she said. "Most people were sitting on the floor, just waiting."
The restaurant ran out of food last night, but Harcus said the distributor showed up a few hours later – driving a semi up the treacherous pass – and re-supplied them. Still, the crunch of employees who couldn’t make it meant the store’s owner was helping in the kitchen Friday.
And a few items have become best-sellers.
"We’ve been selling lots of pizza and coffee," Powers said. "Basically, lots of hot stuff."