The owners of Storyville Coffee Co. LLC, a roaster located on Bainbridge Island, have purchased the old Winslow Hardware building with the goal of establishing a retail coffee business in the large space.
The 6,000-plus square foot building, which housed Port Madison Home for seven years, has been vacant since April when John Hays closed his high-end furniture store on Winslow Way.
Kris Rosentrater, president of Storyville, said he signed the sale papers on Tuesday; previous owners were Ken Schuricht and Mary Hall of Winslow Paint Co.
“I’ve been keeping my eye on it,” said Rosentrater. “First it was for lease and then when a ‘for sale’ sign went up we got more serious about it.
“It’s one of the most amazing properties on the island and a great opportunity, so it was decided to check it out,” he said.
Rosentrater said the business model is to have multiple tenants, anchored by “a high culinary coffee bar.” The goal is to have a “marketplace” with a retail food and drink emphasis.
Storyville is unique in that its roasted coffee is marketed primarily on the Internet and its orders are then delivered overnight to individuals and a few businesses by priority mail. On the island, only Rolling Bay Cafe uses Storyville as its exclusive coffee.
“We first wanted to establish a brand by selling our fresh-roasted coffee directly to the consumer,” said Rosentrater. He has been with the company since it began roasting in 2006 in a large two-story space at Sportsman Park Business Complex.
“Our approach has been simple and we’ve been rewarded with steady growth,” he said. “We roast beans to perfection, bag them, box them and send them to our customers. Now that we’ve done that, we want to build our business with our first coffee bar, replicating our approach in a physical location.”
Rosentrater said the company will continue to roast its beans at its Coppertop Loop building, keeping the emphasis on the success it has established there the last five years.
“The Winslow coffee bar and the market will be dependent on the foot traffic on Winslow Way, which we think will grow tremendously during the next two to five years,” he said.
He believes Bainbridge Island has the potential to become “a premier beverage and food destination” with it drawing heavily from the Seattle area. He also sees an increase in younger people with small children moving to the island from the metropolis.
“It’s coming and we want to be part of that,” he said. “You’ve got great restaurants like Hitchcock already and others like Marché coming. There is also a lot of local food produced by island farmers.”
Rosentrater said it will take months to attract tenants, design the space, get building permits and “just perform our due diligence. There’s a lot of work to do, but it’s an exciting time.”
He said the goal is to open with a full building – no empty spaces.
“The earliest would probably be in June,” he said, “but we’re just beginning. We just bought the building. There’s a lot of hard work ahead.”