KINGSTON — Residents of Kingston can have a piece of Italy without going anywhere — except just across the street.
Cuppa Bella, located next to Kingston Thriftway, is offering the true Italian experience through its specialty coffees and sweets. Owners Karen and Mark Scholl have decided to bring the true Tuscan lifestyle and atmosphere to this corner of the world.
Meaning “Cup of Beauty” in Italian, the husband-wife duo wanted to create a café in Kingston that was reminiscent of Italy. Mark, the proprietor of the cafe and the owner of Kingston Frame Shop and Gallery since 1990, owned an espresso drive-thru shortly after opening up the frame shop. The current frame shop is adjacent to Cuppa Bella.
The experienced baristas serve up the Torrefazione Italia brand of coffee for all espresso drinks and Seattle’s Best Organic Blends for drip coffee. The shop also carries pastries from Farm Kitchen, a local bakery company. But if that’s not enough, there are 20 varieties of homemade fudge made at the store and sold fresh over the counter.
For a hot afternoon, the crew behind the bar will serve up Cascade Glacier Ice Cream and Denali Alaskan flavors such as Moose Tracks (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups and swirled fudge) and Caramel Caribou (chocolate caramel cups).
The biggest eye-catcher is the decor of the cafe.
The Scholls brought in Connie LaMont, an interior designer and her husband, Wayne, an architect, to spruce up what used to be a simple storage area.
“The goal was to have a destination place,” Lamont said. “You walk in, there is an ambiance, music, a glow, a wonderful way of being private and being part of the action.”
While she handles the accounting and finances for the cafe, Karen also serves as the finance manager for Rick Steves’ Europe Through The Back Door (a travel business in Edmonds). The latter job inspired the ideas for the Tuscan decor. Framing the doors are slightly off-centered painted bricks with rusty-colored walls and hand-painted plates. Tile mosaic table tops with a vase full of fresh flowers accompany chairs covered with seat mats including true Tuscan blue, red and yellow patterns.
A sign reading “Il Doce Far Niente” meaning “The Sweetness of Doing Nothing,” hangs over the exit and sends the customer on their way out the door. The bar at the end of the service area is a solid resin top filled with pictures of Italy, polished rocks, coffee beans, Italian currency and the new Euro currency.
Lamont and Karen Scholl couldn’t emphasize enough how important it was to make sure customers felt comfortable.
“We wanted to make people feel like on a European vacation but without the passport,” Lamont said. “There wasn’t a detail left out.”
P.J. Nichols, former manager of That’s A Some Pizza in Kingston, has taken on a similar role with Cuppa Bella, bringing her leadership skills and her customer service experience to the new café.
The business owners plan on starting a happy hour — a morning happy hour that is, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. everyday, lattes will be a $1. But store hours will be determined on what the community wants. Currently, hours are set 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Parking is always available and the store is right on the way to the ferry, Karen said. Outside seating will soon be available.
The most important thing to the Scholls is to create a relaxing atmosphere and sense of community, not just a place for a morning cup of coffee.
“We’ve had great reception,” Karen said. “People just saying ‘Thank you’ for being here.”