Open a drawer in the dimly lighted bar at Europa Restaurant and Bakery in downtown Spokane, and you find love – in the form of letters.
The letters are handwritten on napkins by husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, even strangers responding to notes from other diners.
“You are my love, my life, my very spirit.”
Owner Aja Engels, who bought the business a year ago with her husband, Jeff, the executive chef, isn’t sure exactly how the tradition took root. But she’s happy to have inherited the sometimes coffee-stained fragments of love, lust and longing.
“I think it just started organically,” she said.
Engels guesses there are hundreds of notes tucked into three different drawers in the bar.
“I had been looking for her for what seemed like forever. And now forever doesn’t seem like long enough.”
Europa, at 125 S. Wall St., opened in 1982. After the bar was added in a 1994 remodel, the notes began appearing. They’re signed with Xs and Os, lipstick marks, “always faithful,” nicknames like Honey Bear or first names only.
“We might not always be in Spokane, but wherever we go, we’ll always have each other.” – Joe, to Adria
“I love you so much and want to spend the rest of my life with you. … Thank you for making me the happiest guy in the world.” – Daniel, to Kelly
They talk about how she makes him laugh and how he knew she was The One from the moment they met, how someday they will marry.
“…We will grow old together.” Lori and Tom, Oct. 9, 2009
They don’t all celebrate love. Some mark birthdays, graduations, even passing the bar exam. Others discuss lost love and others discuss what might have been.
“What if that night I didn’t walk through that door?”
Others embrace the imperfect.
“You love to interrupt me, but I guess that is why we work.”
Or offer advice.
“If you have to ask yourself, ‘Is he the right one?’ he’s not.”
Still others express simple sayings. “Life is beautiful,” all the i’s dotted with hearts – Aug. 23, 2013
“You see it a lot in the evening hours,” Engels said. “People come in for coffee and they’re cuddled up on the couch, looking through the letters. It’s sweet.”