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Heritage, Deal take over Thunder Mountain Cafe

Former owner left space earlier this month

Posted: Friday, February 16, 2001

Click here to view the correction.

A popular eatery in the Mendenhall Valley has closed, but a restaurant and a coffee drive-thru plan to share the space and open there soon.

Alaska's Thunder Mountain Cafe, known for its soups and creative focaccia sandwiches, recently closed across from the Mendenhall Center.

A yellow sign at the cafe announces "Heritage Coffee drive-thru opening soon." Grady Saunders, president of Heritage Coffee, said the planned drive-thru would follow in the pattern of the Heritage drive-thrus established in Lemon Creek and at the Juneau Airport.

"We'll do the baked goods and coffee," he said. "We don't want to run a restaurant, so we plan to sublease to Brady Deal. It may be called 'Heritage Cafe' because we want to differentiate the business from the previous owner."

On Wednesday, Deal, a chef, applied for a state business license for a business to be located at the cafe address. Deal has cooked for the Fiddlehead and Chinook's.

It's not clear why Alaska's Thunder Mountain Cafe closed. Owner Phyllis Gilliland could not be reached for comment.

Alaska's Thunder Mountain Cafe opened in August 1996, founded by Gilliland, 45, a former employee of Heritage Coffee Co. The cozy eatery had its 15 minutes of fame when it became one of two local restaurants catering for the 14-member Eddie Bauer photography crew shooting in Juneau in January 2000. It also was celebrated for catering school and legislative events and Adlersheim Lodge.

Gilliland was convicted Jan. 11, 2000, of falsifying business records of an employee's child support payments. She was one of the first Alaska defendants ever jailed for this crime. She began serving time on Feb. 19, 2000, and was released on probation Jan. 9, 2001, according to Lemon Creek Correctional Center records.

On March 6, 2000, Seattle-based foodstuffs supplier Food Services of America (FAS) sued Gilliland and her husband, referred to as John Doe Gilliland in the court filing, in King County Superior Court in Washington state for $4,713.72 in unpaid bills and interest.

The lawsuit was filed in Juneau Trial Courts Feb. 14 as a default judgment. Anchorage attorney Roger Henderson, of Houston and Henderson, has been retained to pursue the matter for FAS.

"As far as I know, Phyllis Gilliland has not filed for bankruptcy," Henderson said Thursday.

"Gilliland abandoned the space about a week and a half ago and the landlord contacted me," Saunders of Heritage Coffee said. "We're renting the building, and we're negotiating with Deal to develop a menu and run the food portion. ...

"I don't want to ride on anyone's coat tails."

Buddy Dore, Saunders' operations manager and vice president, said the drive-thru may open Saturday.

The cafe building is owned by Glacier Village Supermarket Inc., which also owns the Mendenhall Center, until recently named the Mendenhall Mall. Charley Robinson of Glacier Village had no comment.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.



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