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‘It’s very scary’: Pandemic may cost Silver Lake its only eatery (again)

Maria Leckenby worked there in high school, bought closed café years later

SILVER LAKE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- In the small Lake County town of Silver Lake, owner Maria Leckenby runs the Silver Lake Café And Bar.

And while about five miles from the town's main road is the famous "Cowboy Dinner Tree," that spot tree requires reservations and is only open for dinner to a limited (but hefty) menu.

Meaning Maria's restaurant is the only place in town for a convenient breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Maria actually worked at the restaurant when she was in high school, left the small town (of less than 100 people) to become a paralegal. That took took her as far as Southern California, only to end up being convinced by her friends after she retired to buy the restaurant.

At the time, she said, the café had been closed for about seven years, and she wasn’t getting much support for pursuing that dream.

“I'd get comments like, 'Oh, you’re going to close in 6 months.' 'Oh, you’re going to close, and I give it one month.'”

Fortunately, for Maria, those naysayers were wrong, as four years later she has kept the doors open, which has had locals excited, as she is the only full-service restaurant in the small town.

“Because there’s no other place, they’re like, 'It’s nice to go get a burger,' or ''It’s nice to go get some good fish, or meatloaf,' or whatever it is.”

Now, her restaurant and all of those happy customers face a grim reality, as the second round of pandemic-related closures have Maria worried she won’t be able to keep her doors open.

“It’s hard," she said, tearfully. "It’s very scary, you know? I put so much into this place, and for my employees especially, you know? I had a girl, when she came here, she was homeless.”

She said she hasn’t received any aid from the government to stay afloat.

"Somebody told me about a program yesterday, and I called and left a message," Maria said. "But then, they said, 'You know, we don’t know -- maybe all of the money is spoken for.'"

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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.



  1. While the governor lives in a mansion waited on by servants at tax payer expense she is killing off the middle class on our state. We need to stop paying taxes and take away her free ride.

    1. It’s the only option, in a civilized society we’d have a healthcare system that could endure COVID-19 but we’re not civilized. As a backup, we could tax the people getting richer from COVID-19 in order to temporarily support the people potentially losing their business because of COVID-19. The Republicans are awesome at destroying or preventing safety nets. That’s why this woman in the story is probably going to suffer horribly from a pandemic.

      1. BS the Coof or Chinese flu is no more deadly than the regular flu we see every year. The difference this year was an election and a planned world reset of governments.
        All BS. What these idiots forgot was to get the guns first then “revolution”. A really big screw-up which dooms the reset to failure.

    1. Part of the attraction to buying food at local eateries is the experience of getting out of the house and mingling with people. It goes without saying that the shutdowns are going to hurt businesses like this.

    2. A roadside diner is there for convenience. A “stop, I’m hungry” sort of place and a lifeline to others. Without the stop and dine customers the place is doomed. Nobody will call 20 minutes ahead to get a burger, we just never think of things like that.
      Maybe we should all go out there for a good old fashioned diner meal and help this fine lady out. A fund raiser to save her and her employees.
      I am in.

  2. Nothing from keeping people from getting to-go orders? If the public really wants to support a business they will. Sorry you cant plunk your rump down and be served but the support now will give you that later.

  3. If these restrictions are due to high case numbers (and they are) and the case numbers are based on PCR tests shouldn’t the tests be accurate? Try reading this
    I think we may have a problem here…

    1. Labs typically start with the PCR test then verify with one of the more accurate tests. I think this is done for cost savings.

      Here’s the million dollar question: Do they add the PCR positives to the case counts? Or is the follow up test positive required?

      1. Well lets consider that “presumptive cases” are not tested and still added to the case count. Last week with those high numbers I seem to remember the presumptive number was 4.9%.
        Lets also consider the pharmaceutical corporations working on the vaccine production have all been indemnified. So what is their incentive for quality control? I don’t see any real science happening here. In science presumption is not included in the scientific method.

  4. what is really scary is…

    St. Charles on Friday reported a record 34 patients with Covid-19 and 15 were added over the weekend making a total of 49 today.

    Six of the patients are in the ICU and four are on ventilators.

    St. Charles has 30 total ICU beds available to all patients; 27 are currently occupied.

      1. To be clear, St. Charles said recently it has not brought in patients from other areas. Absalon did say yesterday they were moving some patients from Bend to other St. Charles hospitals to increase capacity in Bend, where the COVID-19 patients are.

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