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Kelly Latte's bringing the espresso taste closer to home
Operating a tiny espresso stand in Kent was one thing, but Kelly and Chad McGraw were looking for something different.
The coffee-loving couple was thinking big.
So when they discovered an undeveloped, nearly two-acre lot along a busy road not far from their Auburn home, they jumped at the chance to expand the business.
Convenient and spacious, Kelly Latte's perked up in short order.
"It's unusual," said Kelly, who has been in the espresso business for 20 years.
Unlike conventional espresso stands, this spot features an alpine-pitched covered patio that includes a fountain, fire pit and plenty of seating, some of it wide benches made of smooth river rock. The 800-square-foot patio fronts a 750-square-foot building with a front-service window and double-sided windows for drive-through customers.
A can't-miss, electronic LED (light-emitting diode) reader board stands along the busy Auburn-Black Diamond road. Ample parking, lawn and picnic area rest along one side of the building.
"We still haven't decided what to do with the rest of the lot," said Chad, who operates his own construction/asphalt paving business – Auburn-based Statewide Parking Lot Service Inc. – when he isn't helping Kelly around her shop.
The new espresso business, which occupies about 60 percent of the lot, is a substantial change from the McGraws' Kent spot.
Kelly wanted to establish business in her own back yard, a destination or gathering spot for morning commuters, afternoon groups and friends.
"I want to be a part of my community," she said.
"This is one of the finest job you will ever have," she added. "The people are great. … You see your customers more regularly than your family."
The business, which opened last month, offers a large menu of hot and cold drinks, including ice cream shakes and fruit smoothies, as well as all-day breakfast and lunch favorites. Bagels and the shop's freshly-made mini donuts have become a hit, according to manager Marciea Dubois.
"And we listen to our customers," Dubois said. "If customers want it, we will make sure we get it to them."
Customer service is everything to Kelly. She even has gone so far as to label each cup with the company's mission statement and her cell phone number.
"People are shocked by that," she said, "but I want to know how things are going with our customers."
So far, business has been good.
"We want to get to know our customers on a first-drink basis and first-name basis," Chad said.
• Business: Kelly Latte's
• Location: 33428 192nd Ave. SE, Auburn (along the Auburn-Black Diamond Road)
• Specializing: Coffees of all varieties, smoothies, breakfast and lunch items. Freshly-made mini donuts offered daily.
• Hours: 5 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Friday; 6 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday; 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday.