Heather and Michael Wallace, owners of the Milk House Coffee Co. on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Heather and Michael Wallace, owners of the Milk House Coffee Co. on Thursday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

There’s a cuppa new brew at former home of Walt’s Milk House

Everett couple’s Milk House Coffee Co. is opening where Snohomish dairyman once sold local products.

A half-gallon bottle sits on the counter at the Milk House Coffee Co. That glass container is a mid-century collector’s item, a reminder of an earlier Everett, with red letters spelling out “Walt’s Milk House” and “Farm Fresh Daily.”

Entering the new coffeehouse, where the interior paint color is light mocha, will for some folks be a return to a long-ago destination. Starting in 1960, customers came to Walt’s Milk House, at 4405 Rucker Ave., to buy milk produced at Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer’s Snohomish area farm — and to return those heavy bottles.

“I feel like I know it, so many people have shared their memories of it,” said Heather Wallace. She and her husband, Michael Wallace, bought the old Walt’s Milk House building and will officially open their cafe Monday.

The Milk House Coffee Co. is bringing a new life along with locally produced coffee and goodies to a building that, after Walt’s Milk House closed in the early 1990s, housed a number of businesses. Michael Wallace said they bought the building in 2020 from Kevin Dahl, whose International Stylists, Inc., has operated Third Dimension Salons. Previous businesses there included a deli and a Tupperware distribution center.

Nostalgia for Walt’s Milk House surfaced as the Wallaces worked on renovations. The family of Kirke Sievers, a longtime Snohomish County treasurer who died in 2019, brought the couple vintage Walt’s Milk House bottles, and others have given memorabilia to use as decor.

A sign reading “Daydream Believer” sits on display Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A sign reading “Daydream Believer” sits on display Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

In October, a blog post on Everett’s Lamoureux Real Estate website looked back on Walt’s Milk House, touting its “legendary chocolate milk.” It included an ad for the grand opening, April 29-30, 1960, with a pitch for “Free! All the Milk You Can Drink!” that weekend.

The new shop’s owners don’t have photos of Walt’s Milk House, or of the man for which it was named.

“With all the farming, nobody took time to take any pictures. We were so busy,” said Dan Bartelheimer, 77, son of the late Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer. “I delivered many a truckload of milk,” he said, recalling that along with Walt’s Milk House his family operated a retail store in Mountlake Terrace and sold milk directly from the farm.

Walt Bartelheimer died in 1985, and his widow died in 2000.

Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo)
Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo)
Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo)

Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo) Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo) Walter and Ruth Bartelheimer, Snohomish area dairy farmers, operated Walt’s Milk House for many years. They had milk stores in Everett and Mountlake Terrace. (Contributed photo)

Dan Bartelheimer, president of the Snohomish County Farm Bureau, now runs Sno-Valley Farms with his son, Peter Bartelheimer. His extended family’s agricultural history was highlighted in 2018. Walter’s cousin, dairyman Dale Bartelheimer and his family members were named Snohomish County’s Centennial Farm Family. Dale Bartelheimer died in 2019.

Michael Wallace, 47, and his 45-year-old wife grew up on south Whidbey Island. Heather Wallace doesn’t recall Walt’s Milk House, but has memories of going to the nearby Totem restaurant.

The couple, who’ve lived in Everett about 18 years, are bringing their own family history to the Milk House Coffee Co., where some custom woodwork was created by Michael’s father. “My dad milled this,” he said of a wooden bar along one window where patrons will be able to plug in laptops.

Customers will see counters made from bowling alley lanes salvaged 30 years ago in Tacoma. One beam in the cafe was crafted from a Douglas fir blown down in a storm last year on Michael’s parents’ Whidbey property.

Just as Walt’s Milk House brought farm-fresh dairy products to Everett, the Wallaces will provide customers with local goodness.

Bags of Everett roasted coffee from Velton’s Coffee Roasting Co. are displayed on the counters Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Bags of Everett roasted coffee from Velton’s Coffee Roasting Co. are displayed on the counters Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Their coffee supplier is Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company. Velton Ross is a small-batch roaster in Everett’s Lowell neighborhood. The Whidbey Island Bagel Factory will ferry its wares each day, Heather said. Rabbit’s Pantry Teas in Marysville and Black Scottie Chai from Woodinville are also among the coffee shop’s purveyors.

Those with memories of Everett’s culinary past may remember Pavé Bakery on Colby Avenue, with its master baker Lil Miller. Before the bakery, which closed a decade ago, Miller was an acclaimed chef at a Hewitt Avenue restaurant also called Pavé. On Thursday, in the Milk House Coffee Co. kitchen, Miller was back to baking, coaxed from retirement to create tempting lemon-poppy-seed cookies, scones and other treats for the new shop.

Heather and Michael Wallace, who have three teenagers at Everett High School, had lots to learn in their new endeavor. For coffee expertise, they turned to a mentor, Maxwell Mooney. A nationally ranked barista, Mooney is the creator of Narrative Coffee near the courthouse campus in downtown Everett.

Heather and Michael Wallace make cappuccinos Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Heather and Michael Wallace make cappuccinos Thursday at Milk House Coffee Co. in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The year 2020 was a cup-half-empty time for many, including the Wallaces. Michael, a career millwright, lost his job. They’re now employing more than 10 people at the Milk House Coffee Co., which opened with limited hours last week. The real beginning comes Monday, when doors — and a drive-thru — will open at 6 a.m.

“When life gives you lemons, we’ll make lattes,” Michael Wallace said.

Julie Muhlstein: jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com

Milk House Coffee Co.

The Milk House Coffee Co. opens Monday at 4405 Rucker Ave., Everett. Hours are 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Information: www.milkhousecoffee.com/

Talk to us

More in Local News

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Lynnwood woman accused of killing 2 in 2021 Whidbey crash

A judge found probable cause existed to believe Danielle C. Cruz committed vehicular homicide in December.

Justin Blasko
Report on Monroe superintendent’s conduct delivered to school board

Employees accused Justin Blasko of fomenting a hostile workplace. Findings won’t be public for about two weeks or longer.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mukilteo in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Mukilteo man missing for over 24 hours found dead

Kook Byung Choi, 84, was found in woods near where he went missing in Mukilteo.

Hundreds gather to listen to a lineup of guest speakers during Snohomish County’s “Bans Off Our Bodies” rally Saturday, May 14, 2022, outside the county courthouse in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Everett rally draws 400-plus abortion rights supporters

Saturday’s rally was part of “Bans Off Our Bodies” protests in response to the impending overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Andrew Cain Kristovich (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Oregon fugitive with Snohomish County ties arrested in Nevada

Andrew Cain Kristovich escaped from a federal prison camp in April. He was considered armed and dangerous.

Everett
Public bathrooms downtown, cleanup program approved by Everett council

The City Council voted on how to spend $1.1 million in relief funds, including a three-year “Clean Everett” plan.

Aly Richards warms up during a skateboard workshop Thursday evening at Wiggum Hollows Park in Everett, Washington on April 28, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
At free skate clinic, Everett kids do sweet tricks and more

It’s offered through the Boys and Girls Club, and there are still slots open. So grab a skateboard and get rolling.

Chickens on pasture at Skylight Farms in Snohomish. (Petrina Fisher)
As bird flu spreads to 7 counties, Snohomish County farms on watch

No cases of avian flu have been confirmed here. But its arrival could be devastating for poultry farmers.

A ferryboat. (Washington State Ferries)
Mukilteo-Clinton ferry riders get their two-boat service back

The Edmonds-Kingston route could be next, depending on COVID-19 cases and crew shortages.

Most Read