Jackie Johnston pauses between customers with a bouquet of roses she received during her farewell party last Saturday. Johnston closed her espresso stand after nearly 27 years in business. MARK KLAAS, Auburn Reporter

Jackie Johnston pauses between customers with a bouquet of roses she received during her farewell party last Saturday. Johnston closed her espresso stand after nearly 27 years in business. MARK KLAAS, Auburn Reporter

Bye bye, barista: beloved Jackie decides to move on

Johnston ends long run at East Main Street espresso stand

She is Auburn barista royalty, a friendly personality who has occupied the popular espresso stand at East Main and M streets for decades.

For nearly 27 years, Jackie Johnston greeted her many early-bird, on-the-go customers with a warm smile and kind words as she served up fresh coffee and timely food. Working long hours, at least six days a week, often seven, she enjoyed every moment of it.

Looking for a new opportunity, Johnston has decided to lighten her workload and move on. Last Saturday was her last day at Jackie’s Pony Espresso.

Johnston, who turns 58 on Wednesday, will work fewer hours as a barista at the Federal Aviation Administration’s new regional headquarters in the Des Moines Creek Business Park. A couple plan to open a new coffeehouse at her familiar spot come February, Johnston said.

“It’s been a great ride … so many memories, so much coffee talk,” said Johnston, who has lived in Auburn since 1985. “I’m closing this chapter and moving on to another chapter. … It’s been great serving the city of Auburn. Lots of friends and family, overwhelming support as you can see.”

Johnston began her coffee shop business in 1991 across the street at the then Red Apple Market, where she pushed her cart in and out of the store every day for three years. She then found something more permanent at the corner, and soon more and more customers found her.

Business has been good, her association with her many, loyal customers, great. Customers are her family.

“I’ve had great employees. It’s just been a great success story,” said Johnston, between photo ops, hugs and tears at her farewell. “I’ve met so many neat people. … This is the hardest thing I’ll ever do.”

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