Masonry Cafe to Expand to Old Firehouse Location on Yelm Avenue

By Daniel Warn / For the Nisqually Valley News
Posted 5/17/22

Masonry Cafe Catering has plans to invest in the city of Yelm by taking over the old firehouse on Yelm Avenue next door to its 105 E. Yelm Ave. storefront.

The city of Yelm’s website states …

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Masonry Cafe to Expand to Old Firehouse Location on Yelm Avenue


Masonry Cafe Catering has plans to invest in the city of Yelm by taking over the old firehouse on Yelm Avenue next door to its 105 E. Yelm Ave. storefront.

The city of Yelm’s website states the expansion plans have resulted in a decision that favors the acceptance of the site plan review for the project, which is a precursor to the building phase of development.

“We needed a seating area and, to have that, we needed a public restroom,” Masonry Cafe Owner Shelly Brown told The Nisqually Valley News. “The firehouse had been sitting there for over 30 years, closed.”

Brown said when she first went to look at the location with her son, who is a business partner and co-operator, it was full of items so they couldn’t even measure the building.

Once they got inside and sized up the place, however, Brown said she was pleased with what she found.

“Everything is original,” she said. “The ceiling is all original. There’s original fillers to fill the fire trucks when they would pull in … and the yellow paint on the floor where it told the fire trucks to stop so that they would be right underneath the fillers was all there. It was just a shame to see the building not be taken advantage of for everybody to appreciate.”

To get the project going, Brown and her son took out a Federal Business Administration loan, which will fund some needed remodeling to convert the old firehouse into a workable cafe with seating.

Even though remodeling is necessary, Brown said she wants the place to retain some of its historic roots.

“Everything is going to be firehouse-themed,” she said. “All the local firemen have been coming in and dropping off phones and fire helmets and fire coats and fire hydrants (and) pictures that they had. It’s becoming a community space. That’s what we want it to be. We’re going to be the caretaker for a while.”

Brown said the site plan review process with the city went well, if unexpected, though there’s one requirement the city has laid out that is currently holding the project up.

“We still have some things to work out with the parking lot,” she said. “The parking lot has been there for a number of years and there’s too many spaces for how small it is, so that’s kind of been our hold-up. We’re trying to get that squared away.”

According to the city’s notice of decision on the project’s site plan review, all of the parking stalls are required to be at least 20 feet in length. The current parking stalls are about 17 feet long, so they must be lengthened to accommodate city code. There are a couple of other parking stall requirements as well. The width of the stalls need to be at certain intervals and there needs to be signage of a “van acceptable” parking stall.

“We’re waiting on the city to OK another parking lot diagram,” Brown said. “It’s been a process … to say the least.”

Established in 2018, Masonry Cafe Catering sells grab-and-go lunches like burgers or sandwiches and also pastries and baked goods out of its existing storefront.

The business, however, is mainly known for its catering services, which Brown said can accommodate “just about anything.”

The current plans for the expansion show both the firehouse section of the business and the existing storefront in use.

“Masonry’s door will be over at the firehouse. That’ll be our main door,” Brown said, noting that one of the existing garage-style fire doors will be a roll-up glass door, and the other a commercial entrance. “The other side (the existing storefront) will be where people will come and do pickups just like they used to — food-to-go. They’ll be able to come and do pickups. We’ll be using it for a catering-consult area. And then we will have other bakeries come and run their stuff out of there.”

Brown said that when she started the business with her son, they didn’t know anyone in the community. Opening Masonry’s doors was a leap of faith. Brown said she left a stable job with good benefits to bring her services to Yelm.

“I just really wanted to do something for myself and my family, something that my kids could carry on,” she said.

“I just thought it was just going to be a little grab-and-go cafe,” she added. “Then it just kind of morphed from there. I didn’t plan on doing as much catering as I do now, but that’s my heart and soul. … It kind of feeds your soul a little bit, makes you want to do more.”

It was the embrace of Masonry by Yelm’s populace that proved to Brown that she made the right move.

“They’ve been amazing,” she said. “We’ve had people come in and say, ‘We’re so glad that you’re here. We’ve been waiting for you.’ All of our customers just can’t wait for it to be open next door.”

For more information on Masonry Cafe Catering, call 360-400-0522 or visit


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  • BillSauneuf

    That's outstanding! The Masonry Cafe' makes delicious food! It will be so much nicer to be able to go there, sit down, and eat!

    Wednesday, May 18 Report this