BY PENNY WEBB
Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
Nov. 6, 2013
On the second day, they came. And, they’ve been coming ever since.
William Bell had just opened his new café, Local Grown, on the wharf in Coupeville that April day in 2008. The following morning “The Group” descended. A mixed bag of retirees from myriad professions, who had been meeting for the previous 13 years at one place or another.
“They’d been kicked out of a lot nicer places than this,” Bell said.
But, when they walked into Local Grown, they found their forever perch.
“They meet here every day but Sunday,” Bell said. “And, they are almost always on time.”
That time is 9 a.m. and the group may be as lean as three members or as large as 30, depending on who’s in town, who’s got company, or who’s wives are along for the ride.
“They started out as a wood-carving group that grew beyond wood carvers,” Bell said.
“They’re a very interesting bunch of people with a wide variety of life experiences: There’s an MD, a college professor, a sheriff, a contractor, a teacher, a Silicon Valley guy—all retired.”
“They talk about anything and everything under the sun, from current events to their latest garage sale exploits.” Bell adds, “And, when the wives are along, it’s even more interesting.”
Bell, with his shock of thick silver hair and Robin Williams grin, is a gracious host. He greets his customers by name and with a handshake, then catches up on their news as he pulls espresso and serves up his homemade pastries. His cozy café at the end of the wharf is thick with tables and barstools to roost on. The view out the many windows are of Penn Cove and Mt. Baker, but the vibe here is more about what’s going on around the tables than outside the walls.
“We have a battery of colorful regulars,” Bell said. “And, two different writers’ groups meet here weekly. We support local artists by keeping them well-caffeinated.”
Bell also supports local artists and artisans by stocking their wares on Local Grown’s shelves. Here you will find all manner of Whidbey-made items, from wine to preserves. Bell sells and brews both Mukilteo and Honeymoon Bay coffees, and carries Whidbey Pies, Mile Post 19 preserves, Mutiny Bay Gourmet’s line of spices and vinegars, Mr. Mobley’s Tahini Sauce, Maple Hill goat-milk soaps, and Just Toffee. Aside from the tasty offerings, Local Grown also carries books and music by local authors and musicians. The café’s walls are packed with paintings and photos by local artists and art cards are ready for purchase.
Since Coupeville offers the only deep water port on Whidbey, the wharf is a popular stop for boaters. Local Grown carries basic supplies for his seafaring clientele, functioning as a tiny general store, and a spot for sailors to replenish their supply of beer and wine while picking up some essentials.
With its gaggle of loyal regulars and a regular stream of boaters and tourists, a toddle down the pier to Local Grown is always an entertaining excursion.
Come for the coffee. Stay for the view. Come back to roost with friends you’ve made.
Local Grown is located on the Coupeville Wharf, 26 Front St., and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays except Tuesday; Saturdays and Sundays from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information call (360) 678-3648, or visit Local Grown’s profile page here.