Tabitha Tarter takes a grilled cheese sandwich to a customer. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Tabitha Tarter takes a grilled cheese sandwich to a customer. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The customer is king at Tabby’s Coffee in Everett library

Starbucks barista-turned-coffee shop owner Tabitha “Tabby” Tarter is big on customer service.

EVERETT — You’ll go for the coffee, but you’ll stay because of Tabby.

Tabitha “Tabby” Tarter is the namesake of Tabby’s Coffee, the new cafe inside the downtown library. It replaced Bookend Coffee Co. not too long ago.

Tabitha, 22, co-owns the cafe with her parents. She didn’t know what to name the business, so Mom and Dad named it after her.

“It’s been a dream of mine to own a business,” said Tabitha, who was a Starbucks barista before opening the coffee shop. “The plan is, in the future I would buy my parents out and I would run it on my own.”

I had popped in once before and ordered a mocha. This time I brought my co-worker Mark Carlson with me for an afternoon pick-me-up and to do a proper review.

A splash of hot pink brightens up the library cafe. There’s a string of pink lights, a pink espresso machine and even pink cotton candy. (The cotton candy machine was broken when we visited, but Tabitha plans to get it fixed soon.)

After all the pink, I noticed the prices. Most of the espresso drinks on the menu are at least a dollar cheaper than at comparable places.

Tabitha told me that affordability is key to her business.

“We have a lot of kids coming through the library, so one of our focuses is to keep (the prices) as low as we can,” she said. “We want it to be an affordable place where you can come in and get drinks for the whole family.”

In addition to coffee, the cafe offers a variety of baked goods and bagged snacks. You can have a bagel, cookie or muffin with your Americano, or a bag of chips or pretzels, a candy bar or a cheese stick with your Italian soda. There’s also hot chocolate and apple cider.

Want a grilled cheese sandwich or a hot dog with your cotton candy? You can have that at Tabby’s, too.

I ordered myself another mocha because it’s my go-to coffee. At Tabby’s, you can choose between milk, dark and white chocolate. I’ve only had the Ghirardelli dark chocolate, but I like it a lot. The 12-ounce mocha ($3.25) was served warm, not hot. I appreciated that the barista took care not to burn the milk.

Mark, the Herald’s copy chief, got his go-to, a cappuccino, for $2.95. “It was good, but I’m not a coffee expert,” he said.

We also ordered a couple of brownies at $2.25 each. Tabitha recommended the chocolate peanut butter brownie — it’s the customer favorite. I also picked out a German chocolate brownie topped with shredded coconut. I preferred the coconut one; Mark liked the peanut butter brownie more.

Since neither of us are coffee experts, we took special note of the service. Tabitha puts the customer first.

“Shop owner Tabitha is a pro at customer service,” Mark said. “She makes everyone feel that their order is the most important thing in the world to her at that moment.”

If you don’t see your go-to drink on the menu, Tabitha will make it for you.

“I want to make the shop about the customer,” she said. “At the end of the day, it’s about what they want.”

A lifelong Everett resident, Tabitha said the library has been like a second home for her. She and her brother made lots of trips to read and check out books when they were kids.

She has known one of the librarians there since she was 2 years old. Now that librarian is one of Tabitha’s regulars at the cafe.

Mark summed up our visit best: “Being attached to Everett’s outstanding library, the coffee shop space is an important ‘third place’ for downtown. It appears to be in excellent hands with Tabitha.”

If you go

Tabby’s Coffee is inside the Everett Public Library at 2702 Hoyt Ave., Everett.

Hours are 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Call 425-623-6030 or find Tabby’s Coffee on Facebook.

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