It began in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, about 21 years ago, with just a little idea. When I started my first espresso drive thru business, it was right before the coffee culture explosion and unfortunately, it was right after I had been laid off from work. I was lucky enough to have had unemployment benefits, but knew I needed to quickly figure out how I was going to support myself.
Once a week I would allow myself the luxury of a Mocha Grande at the family owned drive thru by my house. Back then I had the energetic disposition needed to be a Barista and thought that somehow, someway, I would make my career and my “mark” doing this. I couldn’t shake it, and before long I had convinced my family that I could take the drive thru concept to a newer level with consistently delicious drinks and a place where every Customer was part of our circle of friends.
It turned out that my step Dad, Bill, had some faith in me and built, in his front yard in Custer, WA. our very first drive thru. He didn’t tell me he was building it until it was nearly ready, and of course didn’t charge me a penny for his big surprise. It should be noted that he was fairly new to being married to my Mom, so he either built the stand out of his enormous faith in my abilities or more likely, he wanted to get in good with his new Bride and her daughter. Well he definitely did. He drove the building all the way to its’ first location in Lynnwood, WA. and finished the interior on site. He commuted back and forth for weeks finishing the stand while I took care of obtaining all the permits and researching everything “espresso”. As part of my research, I drove to downtown Seattle and stopped in at a Caffe Darte store, sampling many different blends, I chose them as my roaster right then and there on the spot. I was simply blown away by how incredible and delicious the latte they served me was. They’ve been my roaster from day one and continue to be after 21 years. They went on to train me to be a professional Barista and my Mom, gave me a crash course in Business 101 as she herself was the owner of a small town grocery store.
We’ve since grown to many locations and are always searching for more. There are 150 great Baristas and Employees that keep me energized and motivated. Bill has since passed away, but I know he’d be proud. He was GL’s biggest fan.
The rest is a history of very long hours, pride in ownership, good times and some difficult times, perseverance, and accomplishments, and of course all the friends we’ve made along the way. I love this business with all my heart and am so grateful to everyone, especially my Baristas, who helped turn my little idea into my dream come true.
Gourmet Latte’ Inc.