After 13 years, Fall City’s first coffee shop will hold its grand opening on Sept. 11.
Aroma Coffee has been a long time in the making, said co-owner Emily Ridout, who’s opening the shop with fellow locals Sara Cox and Kelsey Wilson. They’re opening at 33429 Redmond-Fall City Road, a historic house on the west side of the small town’s main strip.
But like much of Fall City, regulations surrounding septic systems have hampered their ability to move quickly. When they approached the former building owners 13 years ago, they knew there was a large amount of drainage fields to manage and upgrade.
“We always were trying to find somebody who could do the work,” Ridout said.
The previous owners, she said, weren’t ready to invest the money to ready the building for businesses. So the project was put on hold indefinitely. The building later went on the market, and sat unsold for more than five years, until 2017, when Ridout and her partners decided to give it another go.
They started posting on social media about their dream coffee shop. The Nelson family ended up taking an interest in the project and purchased the building.
Septic plans were drawn up and permit applications were submitted to King County. Eventually the county gave them the go-ahead to start the needed upgrades in 2018. They also received approval from the historical society for the project last fall to renovate the storied building.
Everything was lining up for an April opening, Ridout said, until the pandemic ripped through King County.
The team had a difficult choice: open then, or wait.
Ridout said they want the coffee shop to be a place where the community can gather. It has a backyard, and they hope to start holding music events and farmers markets. They want it to become a cornerstone of the community.
“While we’re making all these decisions, we really had to challenge ourselves. Do we believe in our mission so much that we’re willing to take an even greater risk,” and open in a pandemic, Ridout said.
But after thinking it over, the team came back just as committed as before. They signed the lease in May and began the build-out process. Ridout said they’ve been supported by volunteers, the community and the Chamber of Commerce.
“We didn’t have to change everything for COVID. We’re literally opening in the midst of it,” Ridout said.
Along with craft coffee, the trio is hoping to offer a food menu. They’re planning on opening Sept. 11, with a ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. They’ll be following public safety regulations around social distancing, and will be offering takeout.
“We feel really comfortable with what we’re going to be able to provide,” Ridout said.