A pair of millennials have opened the newest business in downtown Langley — a café that has already become a hot spot for all ages.
Ever since Naomi Kellogg has had her drivers license, the longtime South Whidbey resident has had a fascination for seeking out the coffee shop scene in Seattle.
“It’s been like an obsession,” Naomi said with a laugh. “We would go check them out, rate the atmosphere and the coffee and the experience.”
She never imagined that she would be opening a coffee shop with her high school sweetheart and now-husband, Newton.
The Kelloggs opened the second location for their business, Ulysses Coffee, last Saturday.
Like the name of their business, which refers to the mythical hero from the Odyssey, the couple has been on their own journey as young entrepreneurs.
Back in 2019, they purchased a coffee stand in the Bayview area that was for sale. Naomi had a few years of experience from working at the Flower House Cafe, but it was her husband’s support that convinced her it was the right decision.
Although Newton had no experience in the industry, he owned a pressure washing and painting business and was familiar with the financial aspect of business ownership.
After a successful first year at the coffee stand, the Kelloggs noticed a “for lease” sign in a building in Langley and started to consider expanding Ulysses Coffee into a space where customers could come and stay a little while longer.
“I kind of had this vision for just a small, nostalgic kind of café,” Naomi said.
The new coffee shop is located on Anthes Street in what was formerly known as the Whidbey Art Escape, a pottery-painting studio that became a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before that, it was a puppet store, which Naomi remembers visiting as a child.
With the help of Naomi’s father, the 500-square-foot space underwent some massive renovations that spanned about five months, including the installation of a small kitchen.
One of the bonuses of the new kitchen has been the space it has given Naomi to bake pastries, including cinnamon rolls, strudels, cookies and scones. She has taken baking classes at the San Francisco Baking Institute and Sea Wolf Bakers in Seattle.
The coffee shop will be adding a few food items to the menu. Naomi said she has noticed that there has been a food shortage in Langley on busy, sunny weekends, and quick eats such as a bowl of clam chowder or a salad could help remedy that.
Well-established members of the Langley business community have helped the young couple set up their first sit-down location of Ulysses Coffee. Tim Leonard, owner of the Machine Shop and Heavy Metal Works, fabricated the counters in the new shop. Des Rock, owner of Useless Bay Coffee Company, even helped the Kelloggs choose a roast.
The sudden opening of the business last week, they said, came as a surprise to many locals.
“We didn’t really talk about opening before we opened because it did feel like a really weird time to be opening a business, with so many businesses not knowing how to deal with COVID,” Naomi said.
It was a little scary, she added, not knowing what was going to happen with COVID when they began making renovations on the building back in January.
Nevertheless, the new business seems to be attracting gaggles of tourists, family members, friends and residents of the city.
“Pretty much every day, some Langley-ite comes in and talks to us,” Newton said.
Naomi said she and Newton are passionate about helping other young, entrepreneurial-spirited people come up with a business plan and getting started on their own business ideas.
“Even if they want to open a coffee shop right next to us, we are here for the community and the process,” Naomi said.