After fire, Sitkan organizes relief for Elfin Cove


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Lillian Piedra grew up in the large, three-story house that was home to the Coho Bar & Grill, run by her mother, Shirley Perkins.


“They make a wonderful mushroom blue cheeseburger that’s really good,” she said during an interview Monday. “And then of course there’s always the pizza. She has everything. Smoked salmon, cream cheese – it gets pretty elaborate.”


The Coho was part café and part gathering place in Elfin Cove, a community 70 miles west of Juneau, that fluctuates between a population of a dozen or so in the winter and a couple hundred in the summer.


The café, an attached home, and the neighboring Cove Lodge charter business, were all destroyed by fire on June 19th.  Everyone made it out, including Shirley and Lillian’s sister, Mercedes.


Lillian now lives in Sitka. She has a young son, which means traveling to Elfin Cove to help deal with the disaster isn’t an option.


“The only real thing that I could do to help them was to organize something and try to get donations and things to help out the community and the people that lost everything,” she said.


And so, that’s exactly what she’s doing. So far, she says donations are slow, but steady. Some shoes have come in, and donations have come from all over.


“There was even a wonderful woman over in Tenakee Springs who called me up and wanted to make a donation. She sent over a whole bunch of Carharts and work gloves and things,” she said. “All the guys were just so happy to get that. Someone out of town who just stepped forward and wanted to make a donation.”


Lillian says she’s organizing a benefit dinner for the café sometime in October. In the meantime, more donations of either materials or money, are appreciated.


“Size 8 or 9 men’s wide tennis shoes would be really helpful. They could still use some actual Grundin type rainpaints. Some actual raingear would be really nice. Even if someone wants to make a small donation of cash, then we can go out and buy some stuff for the people.”


A bank account has been set up in Sitka, and we’ll give you Lillian’s phone number in just a minute if you want to help. Lillian says her mother wants to move forward and rebuild, restoring a place known for its mushroom blue cheeseburgers and pizza, but valued for so much more than that.


“Coho’s Café has always really been there,” she said. “Everybody just about knows it. You stop there and you get a bite to eat and you say hi to Shirley and her daughter. Everybody knows it. If she wasn’t able to come up with something and rebuild, a lot of people would be at a loss. It would just be so wonderful if she could get on her feet again and keep moving forward.”


The number to reach Lillian, and to join in the relief effort, is 907-209-4626.

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