LANGLEY — A new cafe downtown is the next chapter in a Whidbey Island couple’s “odyssey,” or journey.
Owners Newton and Naomi Kellogg opened Ulysses Coffee on April 24. It is the Kelloggs’ second business location. The first is a drive-thru coffee stand in Bayview.
Ever since Naomi has had her drivers license, they have been exploring the coffee shop scene in Seattle. Call it a hobby — or a compulsion.
“It’s been like an obsession,” Naomi Kellogg 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, 24, and Naomi, 25, attended Island Christian Academy in Langley and graduated from Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon.
Like the name of their business, which refers to the mythical hero from Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey” who goes on a years-long adventure, the couple has been on their own journey as entrepreneurs.
In 2019, the Kelloggs purchased a coffee stand in the Bayview area on Howard Road. 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 while longer.
“I kind of had this vision for just a small, nostalgic kind of cafe,” Naomi Kellogg said.
The new coffee shop is located on Anthes Avenue in the space formerly known as the Whidbey Art Escape, a pottery-painting studio that became a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the help of Naomi’s father, the 500-square-foot rental 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 trained with the San Francisco Baking Institute and Sea Wolf Bakers in Seattle.
The coffee shop will be adding meal items to the menu soon. The Kelloggs noticed that there has been a shortage of “quick eats” in Langley on busy, sunny weekends — and a bowl of clam chowder or a salad could help remedy that.
Well-established members of the Langley business community have helped the couple set up their 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 Co., helped the Kelloggs choose a roast.
The opening of the business in April, 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 Kellogg said.
It was scary, she added, not knowing what was going to happen with COVID-19 when they started renovations on the building back in January.
Nevertheless, the cafe seems to be the new hot spot for tourists and islanders alike.
“Pretty much every day, some Langleyite comes in and talks to us,” Newton Kellogg said.
The Kelloggs said they 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 Kellogg said.
If you go
Ulysses Coffee, 111 Anthes Ave., Langley, is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Monday. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or find Ulysses Coffee on Facebook @UlyssesCoffeeBayview.
Just want a quick cuppa? The Ulysses Coffee drive-thru in Bayview, 2853 Howard Road, is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.