After 23 years away from Coupeville, former Concerts on the Cove founders David and Pat Howell returned this month with plans for getting back involved with the community.
The couple, who lived in Coupeville originally from 1986-1993, took over ownership of Local Grown, a coffee shop located on the Coupeville Wharf.
“We’ve been after 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.”
Their time away 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 an unsuccessful coffee shop in Willamina, Ore., rebuilt and renamed it “Fat Cat” and within five years it became a successful business venture.
During their time in Coupeville, the couple was active in all kinds of things, Pat Howell said.
The couple owned and operated The Victorian, a Bed and Breakfast located where Pra Nakorn is now located on South Main Street.
David, a former opera singer, served as part-time manager of Whidbey Playhouse. The couple co-wrote and starred in a play with Trudy Sundberg during that time.
David was also an original founder of a men’s singing group, which is now known as the Shifty Sailors.
Pat served as chair on 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 at Coupeville Town Park.
The concerts no longer operate, but the Howells said they’d be interested in getting them started again, but maybe not as frequently as before.
In order to raise funds to have the stage at the park built, the Howells and others from the community offered a series of comedic performances called The Follies.
The humorous skits poked fun at various community members, issues and just about anything.
The Howells reminisced about a time 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 the former Coupeville mayor who lived across from the town park and, because he didn’t like the Concert on the Cove series, he would mow his lawn, saw lumber and start fires to blow smoke into the park during the performances.
“We made sure he was in every folly,” Pat said.
The Follies are also something the Howells said they’d be interested in starting back up.
As they settle into their new Coupeville home, and make small changes to their new coffee shop, the Howells are also looking at other ways to be involved.
Pat says she would like to get involved with the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association and also Friends of Ebeys.
David said he does plan on doing some singing with the Shifties.
One thing you can count on is visiting them at their downtown coffee shop.
The new owners plan on being behind the counter most days.
“As a small business owner, you need to be present,” David Howell said.
So if you haven’t already, the Howells welcome old — and new — friends to stop in and say, “hi.”