Fonks owners aim to resurrect coffeehouse

The building that housed Fonks Coffehouse in Colfax has been reduced to one floor after it was destroyed by a fire in March. The owners plan to reopen Fonks at that location in the future.

COLFAX — While progress has been slow, the owners of Fonks Coffeehouse are still hoping to reopen the Colfax business that was destroyed by a March 18 fire.

The coffeehouse and three floors of inventory for an online sports apparel and accessories business, Sport Town, were lost in a fire that spread throughout the Main Street building that’s more than a century old.

Since then, workers have demolished much of the damaged building and reduced it to one floor. Steve and Debbie Warwick, own the building and the businesses.

Joel Warwick, the couple’s son, said hopes the building will be turned back over to the Warwicks within the next two weeks. After that, he said, the family hopes to hire a company to remove the six-feet-tall debris that remains.

Warwick said the family intends to keep the building at one floor and hopes to reopen Fonks in that smaller space.

“There’s been a lot of barriers here, and a lot of barriers there, but we definitely keep trying to push towards the goal of getting back on that footprint even better than what it was,” he said.

Those barriers have made the recovery process frustratingly slow, Warwick said. He said the investigation of the fire has been delayed because the building was deemed too unsafe for inspectors to work inside. Warwick said the forensics lab that is going to inspect Fonk’s appliances is also delayed by a backlog of other fire cases and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warwick said his family’s other business, Sport Town, lost all of its apparel in the fire. Sport Town has still been selling sports accessories, as that merchandise is housed in another building. Warwick said they are trying to figure out where to store the clothing merchandise when they get that side of the business up and running again.

There have been some silver linings. Warwick said Fonks’ front facade will remain intact. The floor and the basement of the building were unscathed by the flames.

“The goal that we have is to try to get a roof on that thing somehow, some way before winter,” he said.

Warwick’s wife, Amy, did not lose her grandmother’s 70-year-old cookbook in the fire. It was burned around the outer edges but remains intact, he said. Amy Warwick operated Fonks.

Amy has catered a recent event and even sold preordered Fonks lunch items during a one-day sale last week at another downtown location, Warwick said.

A colorful mural on the side of the Fonks building is still standing and Warwick said they are hoping to keep it.

“That’s one thing that we’re fighting to try to keep and the community’s asked to try to keep,” he said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at

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