In most places, there is a spirit of local pride in terms of consumers wanting to support local businesses that also want to support one another. Some places have it better than others; whether it’s for the sheer size of a city or the creative will of its entrepreneurial community, some places simply have a greater diversity of suppliers to draw upon in building an all-local enterprise.
Seattle is certainly a city that’s got it all, to the point that a business can thrive off supplies almost entirely from within a given neighborhood, let alone the whole city or region. A newly-opened shop in the neighborhood of West Seattle called Realfine Coffee, for one, gets almost everything it needs from within a few miles of its shop.
West Seattle is on a peninsula surrounded by Elliott Bay and the Puget Sound, with the Duwamish River constituting its eastern border. Just over the Duwamish is the Georgetown neighborhood, home of the Synesso espresso machine factory, where several West Seattle residents go to work building machines. Naturally Realfine’s 2016 Cyncra was handmade there, not far from the sandwich-maker that prepares Realfine’s sandwiches or the bakery that bakes her fresh-baked goods. Realfine also offers local beer, such a brew from Schooner Exact, brewed about 15 minutes away by car.
The new shop is the realized dream of longtime Seattle barista Julie Mierzwiak, who spent roughly a decade honing her craft before taking the reins of a bar all her own. “I’ve tried to highlight a lot of local businesses in West Seattle,” Mierzwiak told Daily Coffee News of the compact, 530-square-foot café that serves mostly grab-and-go beverages and bites.
The espresso is the house blend roasted by Seattle’s Herkimer Coffee, whose Greenwood Ave. roastery is at least two bridges away, making it the lone exception to an otherwise all-lower-Seattle affair. For the first couple weeks of the café’s operation, though, they’ve stopped in frequently to support the new account. “Those guys are great. I’ve learned so much from them,” said Mierzwiak. “All those guys over there are constantly coming in and checking up on me and checking out the café.”
Situated right next door to the West Seattle location of the popular Rudy’s Barber Shop chain, Realfine has benefitted right off the bat from catering to patrons that sometimes wait up to an hour for a haircut. It’s a copacetic relationship that Mierzwiak looks forward to building upon in teaming up with the Rudy’s crew for volunteer opportunities on Earth Day and other occasions, to give back to the local community that supports them.
Overall, the first-time café owner is pleased with progress so far in the neighborhood of her heart. Profiles in local media have sent customers her way in higher numbers with each passing day, and though her plate is thankfully full and she’s giving the present her all, it’s also never too early to think about the future. “We’re growing so fast,” said Mierzwiak of her rapidly up-and-coming neighborhood. “We’re booming right now. So, there’s always probably room for another Realfine in West Seattle. I love this community.”