Remodel brewing for Whidbey Coffee store

Whidbey Coffee’s location on Pioneer Way in downtown Oak Harbor is about to receive an extensive remodel and expansion

Whidbey Coffee in historic downtown Oak Harbor is about to make the most of its saltwater view.

Construction for a major remodel is expected to start this week, which will transform the dated drive-through coffee stand into a contemporary, indoor coffee shop with lots of windows to be able to see the water.

Dan Ollis, owner of Whidbey Coffee, said the store on Pioneer Way has long been on his list for an overhaul.

The City of Oak Harbor has issued a building permit for the project, which is allowing an addition to the existing structure that would essentially enclose the current outdoor patio space.

“We are preserving the shell with a makeover on that,” said Ollis, whose company, made up of 13 retail centers, is celebrating its 25-year anniversary this year.

“It’s basically a remodel, but it will have a new roof, new floor, new siding, new bathrooms.”

Ollis said there will be room for 26-30 seats, which is still fewer than the number at Oak Harbor’s larger Whidbey Coffee retail center on State Highway 20.

(Photo below: Artistic rendering provided. When completed, the revamped Whidbey Coffee store on Pioneer Way will feature a roll-up garage–style door, lots of windows for viewing the water and room to seat 26-30 people. Construction could begin as early as this week, according to Ollis.)

The revamped store will feature a roll-up garage–style door that will open up to an outdoor patio and will retain the drive-through window.

“We’re adding a couple little surprises within it,” said Ollis, adding there also will be limited outdoor seating.

“Our motivation, believe it or not, is that it’s the last one in our whole company that hasn’t been upgraded. It’s been passed over four different times. We really needed to get it up to the standards of the rest of the company in look and feel.”

Ollis said in June that he hoped the remodel could be completed in six weeks but said recently he was hesitant to place a time table on the project because of unknown factors.

Digging in that area makes Ollis a little nervous because the site isn’t far from where Native American bones were uncovered down the road during a Pioneer Way construction project in the summer of 2011.

That discovery led to a significant delay to the downtown project and proved costly to the city.

Presuming the land was disturbed significantly during the time when it was the site of a service station more than a half century ago leads Ollis to believe that there should be no archeological discoveries.

Still, in compliance with the city, he has a hired a person with archeological expertise to supervise all digs.

“We don’t know what’s underground until we get there,” he said.

It is the first major construction project in that immediate area since the bones were unearthed three years ago.

“In general, if the private property owner is doing work in an area where there is the likelihood or possibility of running into a cultural resource when digging, the city recommends they essentially have a monitor onsite,” said Steve Powers, director of development services for the City of Oak Harbor.

Ollis said he also is still working on a way to keep the store open to business and current employees working there as long as possible while construction is taking place.