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Changing hands

Pam Stuller: 'Grateful to have provided a space that you’ve adopted as your own’

Walnut Street Coffee sold to former employee and her husband

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More than 17 years ago, Pam Stuller had a vision for Walnut Street Street Coffee, formerly Regina’s Flower Escape. 

“My husband and I were working crazy hours getting the space built out, painted, and stocked,” she said. “It was a pale pink building when we took over the space, and we took it down to an empty box before we started our build-out.  But the garage door was already there with the windows in it – all we did there was paint it.” 

The garage door was one of the big draws. Workers and customers could connect to the outdoors during the warm months.

“Many people thought we were crazy to have picked our location. Walnut was an incredibly sleepy street in Edmonds back then, but I could visualize it: visible from Fifth, just tucked away enough to feel like a special find. 

“The place where locals would go. Grateful it worked.”

Yes, Walnut Street Coffee is for the locals, just a bit off the beaten path but filled with life any day of the week. Get there at rush hour and the line may snake out the door.

But 17-plus years is enough.

On May 21, Stuller passes the torch to new owners, Amy and Josh Siegel. 

“While my heart breaks to say goodbye to both the shop and the community I’ve enjoyed so much, Steve and I are excited we found such perfect stewards for Walnut’s future,” she said on Facebook announcing the transition.

Amy Siegel was an important member of the Walnut staff from 2008-2013. In 2021, she opened her own shop, Sidekick Coffee, in Woodinville. She plans to continue running Sidekick while taking on the responsibilities of Walnut.

Siegel said she had dreams of a coffee shop in Edmonds for a while. Just over a year and a half ago, she reached out to Stuller and told her she would be interested if she considered selling.

“Within that year,” Siegel said, “she reached out and said, ‘I think we’re ready.’ And the idea of adopting a shop appealed to me. Starting from ground zero is like having a baby. What’s nice about adopting a shop that’s 17 years old (Walnut opened July 8, 2006) is so much of the system – the baristas, the schedule, the operation – is set.”

Siegel lived in Edmonds in the past, but now lives in downtown Bothell with her husband. “I have a lot of connections in Edmonds. I love being near the water, so I can’t get away from Edmonds. It’s my favorite town.”

Like any owner, Siegel said, she plans to make small changes and adjustments. “In the beginning, I’m the big change. But nothing grand – it’ll all be up front. I’ll make sure I have the buy-in of employees and customers before I do things like that.”

There are certainly other popular coffee shops in downtown Edmonds – Starbucks (of course), Waterfront Coffee, Cafe Louvre, and Red Twig are established, and there are newcomers such as Il Viale and Stillhouse Coffee. Each has to have their own personality to succeed.

(Some don’t. Ganache Patisserie and Cafe and the 407 Coffee House both gave it a go on Main Street but didn’t last long. Ganache opened and closed in 2017; 407 opened in 2019 and closed in 2020.)

Friendly service and a homespun atmosphere go a long way.

But there’s the coffee, of course. Seattle's Espresso Vivace’s Vita blend espresso is Walnut's choice. 

“The focus on espresso and having a tighter menu means your drink comes out faster here than almost anywhere else," Siegel said.

"The ability to do high volume is such a small space is something Pam’s done an excellent job with. 

“A lot of what I was trained on and brought inside my shop (in Woodinville) was that we can handle volume as long as we keep things tight. If we’re in the back baking sandwiches, we can’t get through the line making coffee.”

In other words, everything beyond coffee has to be kept simple.

Walnut’s vendors include Salmonberry, Little Red Hen, and Macrina Bakery for scones, muffins, and cookies. Macrina’s goods are brought in every morning to supplement staples the ones that aren’t baked on site. 

A legacy

Stuller said she’s pleased with the legacy she has created for her coffee shop.

Walnut has always been more than just a business to me, and I am so proud of the community we have created together. We all know that Walnut isn’t really mine anyways –  it is truly your shop, Edmonds. We’ve just been grateful to have provided a space that you’ve adopted as your own.

I think the community loves it because the coffee is always great and our pricing keeps it an affordable luxury. Walnut is welcoming, our staff are kind and caring, we are quick and efficient, there are fun products to look at while you are in line, and you pretty much always leave happier than when you arrived.”

Like Siegel, Stuller agrees that the quality of coffee is key to any coffee shop. That may seem simplistic, but Pacific Northwest coffee lovers don’t return if the brew is subpar.

“It’s great coffee first,” said Stuller. “Great people behind the bar second. And a space that feels good to be in. But then I think our love of the small details and desire to constantly improve are what have kept our business growing every year since we opened. I still love what I do and I think that shines through.”

Stuller said she’s going to take some time to slow down,

“I’ll spend more time with Steve, hang out with my family and friends, travel some, ride my bike more, and maybe even clean out the garage.

“I am grateful for all the customers who’ve become friends and supported us through the years, fellow business owners that are trusted confidants, and my team – past and present – who have enriched my life in ways immeasurable. Thanks for everything Edmonds. I love you!”

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