TV time, national exposure brewing at Whidbey Coffee

Dan Ollis can be seen smiling a lot these days.

Aside from appearing in his first television commercial recently, Ollis also is happy about his Whidbey Coffee Company brand getting a taste of the national market.

Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels Corporation announced Tuesday that Whidbey Coffee will be served in the lobbies of Red Lion Hotels and Red Lion Inn & Suites within the next two months.

Ollis said it marks the first time that Whidbey Coffee’s brand is branching out on a large scale beyond the state of Washington.

“We don’t have a lot of customers out of state,” said Ollis, who grew up on South Whidbey.

“This account will change that for Whidbey Coffee. It’s fun news. Now the big work starts.”

Ollis owns 12 Whidbey Coffee retail stores in Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties, including four on Whidbey Island. Two stores are in Oak Harbor.

Ollis’ alliance with Red Lion also includes his Seattle-based Victrola Coffee Roasters brand, which will be served in lobbies of other Red Lion hotels such as Hotel RL, starting Aug. 1 in Baltimore, Md.

“We will be known for our coffee experience,” Greg Mount, president and chief executive officer of Red Lion Hotels Corporation, said in a news release. “When we met the owner and staff from these award-winning coffee brands, Victrola and Whidbey, we knew they understood our vision. It’s more than just serving a great cup of coffee or latte, it’s about the Pacific Northwest culture and the passion for the experience and then translating that into the layout and design features of the lobby.”

The idea is an effort to move the coffee experience out of the rooms and back into the lobbies, Ollis said.

He likes the partnership because Red Lion is a Washington corporation and also because it grows the wholesale side of Whidbey Coffee’s business.

Last month, Whidbey Coffee got even more exposure as Ollis appeared in a Heritage Bank commercial.

Ollis said he’s been a longtime customer of Heritage Bank and was one of four Western Washington business owners approached by the bank to be featured.

In the commercial, which was shot in May on a lighting stage in South Seattle, Ollis is shown in slow motion pouring a large scoop of coffee beans.

Through the magic of film, the beans appear to be dropping into a funnel-shaped tray on a table before him, but that wasn’t the reality.

“The beans are splashing all over the table,” said Ollis, who figures it took about 50 takes to get it right.

Although he’s seen a video of the commercial, Ollis said he had yet to see it run on television. Many friends have, however, including when it launched on KCPQ-13 FOX during coverage of the U.S. Open last month.

“I’ve had a number of colleagues and friends call and of course tease me,” he said.