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New owner takes over 1504 Café

Some customers have sat in the same chair while drinking their morning coffee since 1989 when the 1504 Café in Freeland opened. One man actually brought in his own TV to watch the news channel during his visits. The TV has been at the coffee shop ever since.

Many customers have stayed the same over the past 17 years, but ownership of the espresso hotspot has changed twice. Now, it’s the third time.

Today, new owner Jessica Leon will take over the café. She has left her position at U.S. Bank in Freeland to run the popular coffee shop.

“I feel like I am inheriting somewhat of a legacy,” Leon said. “People feel a sense of ownership for the place.”

The 1504 Café is one of the oldest espresso bars on Whidbey Island. Today, the old and new owners will officially exchange keys and have a little celebration, Leon said.

Leon is most excited about being part of the community living room that the coffee shop has become over the years. Seeing liberals arguing with conservatives, meeting people from all walks of life and hosting both newcomers and fourth-generation islanders at the same place made the business opportunity attractive to her.

“It’s great to see. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, they like the same place,” Leon said.

It is her first business venture into the world of Northwest coffee culture. As she learns the ins and outs of the coffee business, she has the loyal support of staff. The biggest help is the 16-year-old daughter of the previous owners, Laurel Johnson, who has been around the coffee shop since she was 6 and will continue to work at the 1504 Café.

Changes come naturally with a new owner. Leon said she is looking forward to a new chapter in her life as Freeland goes through changes with the current talk of incorporation and planning for the town’s future.

“Freeland is building its own character,” she said.

Leon plans on keeping the atmosphere of the coffee shop the same.

“I want to honor what was created here,” she said.

Store specialties like cranberry bread will stay, as well. However, down the road some simple breakfast items and light lunches, such as salad, will be added to the menu. Leon also would like to introduce more alternatives to coffee, such as English or Japanese tea drinks.

She also hopes to have art and other events at the location.

The 1504 Café is located between the Texaco gas station and the Coldwell Banker office in Freeland off Highway 525.

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