Kapow! Coffee hit with rent increase, rising prices
Kapow! Coffee, one of Seattle's smallest coffee shops, will raise drink prices next month and open Sundays for the first time in its 10-year...
Seattle Times business reporters
Kapow! Coffee, one of Seattle's smallest coffee shops, will raise drink prices next month and open Sundays for the first time in its 10-year history to help pay for the rising cost of coffee, milk and rent.
The 200-square-foot shop next to Taco del Mar in South Lake Union — known to longtime Seattleites as the Cascade neighborhood — is feeling pressure from the area's gentrification. Other coffee shops have moved in, and Kapow!'s rent shot up this month.
"The rent tripled, but there isn't triple the business," said owner Angela Baker, who declined to say how much she pays for the space that used to be a storage garage. Munro Family Trust owns the space, according to King County property records.
Baker gets a cut from the thousands of "Ride the S.L.U.T." T-shirts that have been sold in her shop by her only employee, Jeremiah St. Georges, and his business partner, Don Clifton.
The shirts refer to the South Lake Union Trolleys, or streetcars, which are housed nearby.
"We're inadvertently a tourist attraction," St. Georges said. Last fall, he stayed awake nights folding huge numbers of the popular T-shirts, which his girlfriend, Lisa Ripley, designed "in less than three minutes on a computer."
Tourists have come from as far away as China and Cameroon for the shirts, said St. Georges. He's been a barista at Kapow! since a month or two after it opened in 1998.
Baker started Kapow! while she was manager of the Taco del Mar next door.
"It used to take a half hour to get coffee," she said. "I figured if we had it right here, employees would be back quicker."
After about a year, the shop generated enough money that she left Taco del Mar.
The dot-com bust hurt Kapow!, but sales were rebounding until construction for the streetcars began in 2006.
Now the streetcars are running and Baker hopes business will grow as Mirabella and other residential buildings open. "There's all this hope, but everybody's not here yet," she said.
St. Georges wants to capitalize on the popularity of the T-shirts. So far, there are "Ride the S.L.U.T." mugs and coffee beans.
"I'm working on 'Ride the S.L.U.T.,' the musical," he said.
— Melissa AllisonTidbits
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Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or email@example.com
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