Crashed cafe already open for business


Customers are back in the Walnut Street Cafe in Lynn.


LYNN Arianna Murray regularly drives from Revere to Walnut Street Cafe, but when she heard a rogue driver had plowed through the cafe’s front wall on Monday, Murray figured she had to find a new favorite coffee spot.

“We were so shocked when we called and they were open,” Murray said Wednesday.

As she stood in line to buy a cup, Murray marveled at how cafe owners James Chalmers and Alicia Churchill managed to clean up crash debris and get a new wall erected between early Monday morning and 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when employees began selling customers hot coffee again.

“This is a Jim Chalmers miracle — only he could pull it off,” said part-time evening bartender and cafe technology specialist Marissa “Red” Coste.

Coste, a long-time cafe customer ,who started working for Chalmers and Church a year ago, said customers and employees rallied around the cafe’s owner following the crash.

Police identified the driver of a Jeep Cherokee stolen out of Beverly as Igor Cruz, 18, of Malden. He pleaded not guilty in District Court Monday afternoon to charges related to the theft and a car chase prior to the crash.

The crash knocked out a wall, part of the cafe’s roof and ceiling and filled the business’ small interior with debris and dust. Coste learned about the crash Monday morning through text messages.

“I was crying. This job is my soul. It’s a family place — it feels like you are walking into a home,” said the mother of two.

News of the cafe’s reopening thrilled Marissa Damelio, who also travels from Revere to West Lynn almost daily to buy the cafe’s coffee. Lauren Turco stopped by the cafe Wednesday and said she did not believe friend Katie Leigh when the fellow Saugus resident informed her the cafe had reopened.

“I’m definitely happy they did. Everything is homemade here. It’s a hidden gem,” Turco said.


Thor Jourgensen can be reached at

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