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Cafe Racer Reopens After Shooting

Patricia Murphy

It's been nearly a month and a half since a mentally ill gunman shot and killed four people at Cafe Racer in Seattle's University District. A fifth victim was killed downtown.

Memorials in front of the cafe have been swept away and there's a fresh coat of paint. Earlier this week friends and family gathered. Today it reopens to the public.


Cafe Racer owner Kurt Geissel looks tired, like a man trying to balance grief and gratitude.

Geissel: "I didn't really realize what it meant to the community, this place, until, unfortunately, this happened. I would have liked to have found out in a little bit different way, but it really showed that what we'd been doing here was worth it — that we're giving something to the community. "

About a month ago the floors were pulled up, there's new paint. But Geissel remains raw. The victims were more than customers, they were his friends.

Geissel says he has no idea what to expect at today's opening. He knows it will be emotional for everyone.

It was because of the support of friends and customers that he decided to reopen.

Geissel: "It was kind of like going to your own funeral, for me anyway, because it was like, wow, this place really meant so much to so many people? And of course, of course Joe, Drew, Kim, and Don — they're a part of the mourning process too and the grieving. It's not just about the place, it's about the people that's in the place. Because you can build anything, but it doesn't matter if it doesn't have a character or some sort of meaning to people."

Some of the memorials left out front after the shooting have been preserved inside the cafe.

Live music acts will be back soon; a return to the norm with the memory of the past.

Patricia Murphy, KUOW News.

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