Slowing down to 'island time'
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:45 PM
"Life enabled Aileen Agricola to slow down from an all-consuming work pace.Now, the new owner of Bainbridge Coffee and Ice Cream at the Pavilion is trying to persuade others to do the same thing, even momentarily.I'm trying to put in things that remind us we can stop and take a moment, said Agricola, who bought the coffee stand at the end of July.A coffee bar on Bainbridge Island represents the last stop of a long journey for Agricola. After studying physics at the University of California at Berkeley, the San Francisco native went to work for Esprit, the clothing manufacturer, in their computer operations.From there, she went to Oracle, a then-new company in the Bay Area - a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. Oracle is what made it possible for me to retire from the software industry, she said.It also gave her an assignment in Costa Rica, where coffee is as much an economic mainstay as is software in Silicon Valley.I got coffee on my mind there, and it stayed ever since, she said.After four years at Oracle, she left to join a start-up, which in turn was acquired by BMC, a Houston-based computer firm. She moved to Texas, but decided to retire in 1995 and travel around the world.I visited 50 countries, she said, ending up in Sydney, Australia.I had planned to stay there through the Olympics, she said, but after a year, I was ready to go back to the United States.She then went to work for a non-profit educational website, but decided to leave the high costs and high pressures of south San Francisco. Preferring to stay on the West Coast, she looked at Portland and Seattle, but neither seemed to quite fit.Then she found Bainbridge.I took a day to come over here, and drove around with a real estate agent, she said. The first house she showed me, I bought.So in March, she moved to the island. And like many newcomers, she was amazed at the ease with which she was welcomed.Within two weeks I met everybody in the neighborhood, Agricola said. And now I'm amazed at the number of people I know here.One of the people she met early on was Mavis Hennesy, who owns Bainbridge Coffee. Agricola mentioned coffee, and Hennesy offered to sell her the space at the Pavilion.So over the next two months, Aileen (pronounced Ilene), her twin sister Arleen and brother-in-law George Kellner completed the deal. As the resident partner, Aileen is responsible for day-to-day management.But Arleen and George, both still high-powered, high-tech Silicon Valley types, visit frequently to check up.Arleen calls my house her vacation home, Aileen said.Agricola is slowly changing the space to give it a cozier feel. She's added a soft couch, and has some puzzles to keep the kids busy. She plans to install an exhibit of photographs from her travels, and wants to host events, including after-school activities and perhaps a Monday Spanish class.My goal is to make this a destination where people take a break and sit down, instead of getting coffee to go, she said.The stand opens at 7:30 a.m. weekday mornings, 8 a.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. on Sunday, and closes at 7 p.m. - except for Friday and Saturday nights, when it's open to 9:30 p.m. Those hours may be extended to accommodate movie crowds at the adjacent Pavilion theaters.We're somewhat dependent on movie crowds, but really they prefer popcorn to coffee, she said.Her main focus is on getting to know workers at the local businesses, and persuading them to slow down for a minute and smell the coffee.I try to get them to think about their own lives and take a break from the job, she said. It's like when you're savoring chocolate - cherish that moment. "