Coupeville's favorite coffee shop closes today
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
January 21, 2011 · 11:22 AM
A popular coffee shop that was a social hub for Coupeville residents will pour its last cup o' joe today.
Miriam's Espresso is closing after 15 years of doing a good business in the Central Whidbey town, until the recession hit.
"The last two years have been really difficult," owner Miriam Meyer said this morning. The combination of a sour economy plus family emergencies contributed to her decision to close the cafe.
She expressed surprise at how quickly the news spread Friday about the coffee shop's imminent closure. She quickly received a call from a teacher at the high school concerned about the sad rumor that turned out to be true.
Miriam's has been a popular locale for residents on their way to work or students heading to school.
"I think it's a huge loss for us. It's like the center of Coupeville," said Todd King, pastor of Christ the King Church in Coupeville, while he was sipping on a cup of coffee and working on his laptop Friday morning. "It's the best place in Coupeville to have meetings and lunch."
Anne Blanchette, Marianne Borozny, Tacey Jungmann and Gretchen Thorn have been bringing their children for the past three years to Miriam's for hot chocolate every Friday morning. It was a perfect place for such a tradition because of its location next to Coupeville Elementary School.
"Part of it is for the kids, but mostly it's for the adults," Blanchette said. In all, six kids enjoyed their last hot chocolate at Miriam's Friday morning before walking next door to class.
For years, Miriam's has given the friends a chance to visit people as they stop for coffee.
"People drift through and we can say hi," Blanchette said.
"This place has been the hub of social connection," Jungmann added.
Melinda Buchholz expressed similar sentiments. She stops by Miriam's every Friday morning to pick up several cups of coffee for her coworkers at Whidbey General Hospital's MAC clinic.
"I was very surprised," Buchholz said of seeing the sign above the baked goods counter saying Friday was Miriam's final day of business.
Miriam's has been operating out of the building next to the elementary school since 2006. In fact the building was built to house the espresso shop and restaurant as well as several offices. Prior to that, it was located across the street and has been serving coffee since 1995.
The building brewed a storm of controversy in the years leading up to its construction. A local community watchdog group, Oh Oh, sued to prevent its construction, alleging the property's zoning violated the town's comprehensive plan. The group wanted a park to be placed on the land located in front of Big Rock, an enormous glacial erratic located between the Miriam's building and the Big Rock Apartments. In 2007, months after the building was constructed, a Skagit Valley Superior Court judge sided with the Meyers and the zoning remained.
Miriam's Espresso is the latest restaurant to close in recent months throughout Coupeville. The County Deli, the Mad Crab and Kimo's Island BBQ all closed in 2010. However, it looks like a new restaurant will soon take over the former deli location located on North Main Street near the Island County campus.
Meyer said she hopes to lease out her building but she hasn't started looking for a new tenant yet.
Ten part-time employees worked at Miriam's Espresso. King complimented the staff, saying they were one of the reasons he spent so many mornings at Miriam's.
Barista Michelle Blouin has brewed coffee at Miriam's for the past two years. She said she was shocked when she learned Thursday night about the closure. Once she finished work today, she plans to hit the pavement to find her next job.
"I'm going to miss this place, because this is the first job I've had in years that I enjoy," Blouin said.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.