Couple returns to Coupeville

Pat and David Howell return to Coupeville as the new owners of Local Grown

Twenty-three years after leaving Coupeville, Concerts on the Cove founders David and Pat Howell have returned to town, hoping to leave their mark once again.

The couple, who founded Concerts on the Cove and were instrumental in the construction of the stage in Coupeville Town Park, said they plan to get involved in the community once again.

The Howells lived in Coupeville from 1986-1993. They recently bought Local Grown, a coffee shop located on the historic Coupeville Wharf.

“We’ve been after (previous owner) William (Bell) for five years to sell,” David Howell said. “We wanted to come back to Coupeville, and had the experience.”

“It was a good way and opportunity for us to come back.”

The Howell’s time after leaving Coupeville was spent mostly around Oregon on various ventures, including community theater, doctoral studies and a business venture into the coffee shop industry.

The Howells bought a struggling coffee shop in Willamina, Ore., rebuilt it, renamed it “Fat Cat” and, within five years, it was a successful business venture.

During their first stint as Coupeville residents, the couple was active in many community endeavors, said Pat Howell.

The couple owned and operated The Victorian, a bed and breakfast located in the Victorian building on South Main Street where Pra Nakorn is now located.

David, a former professional opera singer, served as part-time manager of Whidbey Playhouse. The couple co-wrote and starred in a play with the late Trudy Sundberg during that time.

David was also an original founder of a men’s singing group now known as the Shifty Sailors.

Pat served as chairwoman for the Trust Board for Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and on the Coupeville Planning Commission.

They also started the summer concert series, Concerts on the Cove, and were instrumental in getting the stage built in Coupeville Town Park.

The concerts, which were big draws for residents and visitors alike, are no longer held, but the Howells said they are interested in getting them restarted, but perhaps not holding them as frequently.

To raise funds to build the stage in the park built, the Howells and others in the community held a series of comedic performances called “The Whidbey Follies.”

In the Follies, which were well attended, humorous skits poked fun at various community leaders, particular sub-communities issues, residents and just about anything else distinctly Coupeville and Central Whidbey.

The Howells reminisced about a time years ago when the town’s Catholic Church decided it didn’t want to paint anymore and installed vinyl siding — without approval from the Historic Preservation Commission.

In jest, The Follies started ongoing skits about the Sisters of Perpetual Maintenance.

“We were after everybody,” Pat said. “It was very political, and they were pissed if we didn’t go after them.

“Oh those shows were fun,” she added.

There was also a former Coupeville mayor who lived across from Town Park who, because he didn’t like the music generated by the Concerts on the Cove series, would fire up his lawn mower, saw lumber and start fires to blow smoke into the park to interrupt the performances.

“We made sure he was in every Folly,” Pat said.

The Follies are a past tradition that the Howells said they’d be interested in restarting.

As they settled this past week into their new Coupeville home, and are instituting changes to their newly-acquired coffee shop, the Howells said they are looking for additional ways to become involved.

Pat says she hopes to get involved with the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association and Friends of Ebeys.

David said he plans to do some singing with the Shifty Sailors.

One thing you can count on is finding them often at their business.

The Howells said they plan to be behind the counter most days.

“As a small business owner, you need to be present,” David Howell said.