Mason’s Place: Your Home Away from Home
The story of how it all began four years agoFood & Drink
When home for the summer from her college in Illinois, waitressing at a truck stop and mixing unlikely, experimental drinks out of leftover coffee, Heather Mason couldn’t have known that she’d one day find herself the proprietor of a specialty coffee shop. She couldn’t have known that her roots, running deep in Moses Lake soil, would ground her in times of uncertainty, and blossom into the fulfillment of a dream that she would carry throughout her adult life. But, nearly a quarter of a century after she left the place of her childhood, she found herself the proprietor of Mason’s Place in the heart of her hometown.
In late 2014, Heather returned to Moses Lake when her mother Ronda passed away. Her life was in transition, and she decided to stay for a while to help settle her mother’s affairs (her father Gary had passed away in 2010) and decide where life would take her next. Staying in her parents’ house and going through their things brought back a flood of memories. People she’d meet would relay stories of her parents and grandparents. Her family had touched many lives in the community, and Heather connected with the sense of place felt so long by her family and those in their sphere.
One day, she got together with her long-time friend Bryan Henninger, who was in the throes of the renovation of what is now the Smith-Martin Building. He showed her the still-empty corner space and said, “Wouldn’t this make a great coffee shop?” The question serendipitously pitched at just the right time and place, would lead to the realization of Heather’s dream of operating her own coffeehouse.
Partnering in the effort, Heather and Bryan considered many names for the business, all of which gave a clever but subtle nod to the legacy of her family. But, in a moment of inspiration, one of them said, “Why don’t we just call it Mason’s Place?” And it was settled.
Heather wanted to pay tribute to her family because they left this world so early. It seemed like there was such a hole left by all of them leaving; so many people in her circle had leaned on them in some way and were feeling their absence. “I’m sure that a lot of it had to do with a need in me to hold onto that and keep it alive, really, because they weren’t anymore,” she said.
Heather’s grandparents, Bob, and Peg Mason had been in Moses Lake since the 60s. They moved here when Bob had the opportunity to help develop the wrestling program at Big Bend Community College. He later became Dean of Students at BBCC, helped form the Japan Airlines training program at the Port of Moses Lake, and developed an exchange program allowing Japanese students to learn about agriculture here. He received the Order of the Rising Sun for his work—the highest Japanese honor awarded to civilians. Peg was a librarian at Moses Lake High School and played the violin in the orchestra for BBCC theatre productions. Bob passed away in 2000, and her grandmother followed in April of this year
Heather’s father Gary graduated from Moses Lake High School and went to college in Wyoming, where he met his wife Ronda. When he was recruited by an accounting firm in 1976, Gary, Ronda, and their young daughters returned to Moses Lake. Ronda worked her way up to Medical Assistant in the OB/GYN department at the Moses Lake Clinic, impacting people’s lives with her warmth and caring.
Heather’s vision for a coffee house is tied closely to her sense of home. Heather’s parents and grandparents kept their homes that were open to anyone, and constantly full of people—friends, family, exchange students and more. They had an innate sense of hospitality that Heather shares and wants to emulate. “Really,” she said, “I just want people to know that anyone is welcome here.” She wants everyone to feel at home.
“I love coffee,” Heather said, “I love the idea of interacting with all of the customers, and then the idea of having an actual building where people could come in and interact not only with me but with each other—I just love it.” At Mason’s, you can get a “for here” coffee in a mug. You can take it outside if you want to, or walk around the Smith-Martin building with it, and it will find its way home. If you have your own favorite mug, you can leave it at Mason’s Place to be used whenever you visit. Local artists display their work on the walls, rotating monthly.
Heather also wants her products to be local. Her coffee from Camano Island Coffee Roasters is roasted right here in Washington. It’s organic, shade-grown, fairly traded, and scores in the top 1% among various quality metrics. Also served Caffe Darte beans roasted in Federal Way. Everything else, from the cookies and candy to the oatmeal, has origins in the Pacific Northwest as well.
Mason’s Place is a coffeehouse designed for you to relax, spend some time, and connect with the people around you. In the long tradition of the Mason family, Mason’s Place is your home away from home in Moses Lake.