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Mason Jar brings energy to Cheney dining scene


Contributed photo

The staff of the Mason Jar left to right are Derek LaBar, Kevin Robinson, Douglas LaBar, Lucas Williams, Akilah Powell, Danielle LaBar, Michael Robinson, Mary Robinson, Stephen Hathaway and Megan Clark. Not pictured is Carl Robinson.

What do you do with a family full of energy, inspiration and imagination? You start a bistro. In Cheney? Yes.

But first, Carl Robinson, the dad with the ability to renovate a building from scratch, begins the construction. His wife, Mary Robinson said, “Carl works behind the scenes and offers continuing support. Without his efforts we couldn’t have started The Mason Jar.”

Other members of the family are Kevin Robinson, Michael Robinson, Danielle LaBar and Douglas Labar, who could talk a person into anything. We may see this fellow in the future giving important speeches among the gentry.

Michael Robinson said, “The menu changes every week. People come in and ask for the same thing they had last week because they liked it so much. Then they taste what’s on the menu for this week and like it too.”

One of their specialties is an upscaled grilled cheese sandwich with three kinds of cheese, an uncooked sauce of basil, garlic and roasted bell peppers. Say the word “pesto.” There, you’re catching on. The Mason Jar also specializes in pumpkin roulade, which is like a pumpkin sponge cake. You roll it around in cream cheese with a candy-ginger frosting. Customers say, “We love that.” You’ll find muffins, pound cakes and other delicacies ready to eat as well.

The Mason Jar family members are not strangers to Cheney. Douglas LaBar said, “I got my first pair of glasses from Dr. Miller when I was in the fourth grade. I graduated from Cheney High School in 2005. I’ve often wondered, ‘Why doesn’t Cheney have a business like this?’ We want to bring the university and the town together. We’re passionate about helping this town improve and progress. We want to promote a healthy way of living, to get to know the farmers we buy our food from, to bring us all together. We make all our sandwiches. Our food is as wholesome and natural as possible.”

Michael Robinson is known as the skilled coffeemaker. Folks say it’s the best coffee they’ve tasted. There’s hot chocolate as well, espresso and hot cider, beer, wine and desserts.

The Mason Jar sets the theme of a cozy small town gathering place. Did you know the building is 100 years old? When you walk in the door look up at the ceiling. You see a golden, hammered design that looks as if it will be there another 100 years.

Mary Robinson and Douglas LaBar do all the cooking and baking. There are plans afoot for children’s cookie decorating near Christmas. Need I say, with homemade cookies? You may bring your laptop and work at almost every table. Friday nights student instrumentalists from Eastern Washington University get the floorboards humming with jazz.

The Mason Jar family said, “We promote values rather than money. We support fund raising for local charities.”

In case you’re wondering, the answer is “Yes,” The Mason Jar will take orders for pumpkin, apple, pecan and pumpkin roulade pies for Thanksgiving dinner. Nov. 19 was the deadline, however.

We could say, “Welcome to Cheney,” but they’re already here, the coffee’s hot, the sandwiches are ready, the cake is baking. Here comes a hungry customer.

Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author who can be reached at

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