WARRENTON — Arnie’s Cafe, a popular restaurant on Main Avenue across from Warrenton High School, is moving downtown.
The restaurant’s owner, Crystal Green, is planning to remodel and open in the former Warrenton Auto Parts, a Napa Auto Parts franchise on Main Avenue a block from City Hall, in June.
The downtown core lost a longstanding local breakfast option last year when Serendipity Caffe was moved out by the Warrenton-Hammond School District to make way for the new location for the Warrenton Community Library.
Green, whose family moved to the area in the 1990s, worked at Arnie’s in the mid-2000s for previous owner Mary Garrett. She had jokingly told Garrett to reach out if ever interested in selling, and ended up taking over in 2015, remodeling the restaurant and adding more homemade fare. The restaurant has grown in popularity and doubled its sales since the change, Green said.
The restaurant, Arnie’s for about 20 years, has gone through several iterations, including Carol’s and the Donut Hole. The building it occupies is three separate structures cobbled together from other businesses in the area.
“The actual building was built in the ’50s,” Green said. “It started out as the Sea Breeze in Hammond, and it was built out of reclaimed barn wood.”
When business in Hammond slowed down, the building was moved to the center of Warrenton near the Mini Mart before being sold, moved to its current location and renamed the Donut Hole, Green said. Over the years, other buildings have been moved and added on to Arnie’s, including a real estate office from Cullaby Lake and another building from Fort Stevens.
The building needed to eventually close temporarily for repairs, Green said. She connected with Rick Newton, a city commissioner and owner of the former Warrenton Auto Parts that closed after the opening of Auto Zone and O’Reilly Auto Parts nearby in the North Coast Retail Center. Newton later contacted Green about moving into the building, which had previously housed Fultano’s, Green said.
The new location will more than double the restaurant’s space, giving the kitchen and seating areas more breathing room, Green said. She hopes it will help attract more people and businesses to the downtown core, which has languished in part because of the shopping centers along U.S. Highway 101.
Green is researching the history of all the restaurants that have come before to list on the menus. As for the feel of the restaurant, she hopes to keep the same homey vibe.
“It will certainly be old-style cafe,” she said. “I think that’s part of the charm that people appreciate, being able to come back and sit in a place that maybe you think your grandparents sat, or (where) your parents came as kids. The history of this place — even though we’re not in the same location, I still want to bring that feel.”