Marista’s Coffee Shop owner Maria Kuehlthau and baristas Kristina Romero and Christina Gavrishov smile with one of their many regulars on their last day in operation. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Marista’s Coffee Shop owner Maria Kuehlthau and baristas Kristina Romero and Christina Gavrishov smile with one of their many regulars on their last day in operation. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Longtime coffee shop closes after safety concerns with homeless

Owner says Starbucks will replace Marista’s Coffee.

After dealing with too many safety concerns with the homeless over the years, longtime business Marista’s Coffee closed its doors for the last time Monday evening.

Five people sat in the shop — located on South 320th Street in Sunset Square — on the shop’s last day, chatting and drinking coffee.

Behind the counter, the baristas filled orders and owner Maria Kuehlthau’s two daughters helped out. They were excited to start mopping the floors, and they kept asking Kuehlthau if it was time yet.

It was a hard decision to close Marista’s doors after 18 years serving the Federal Way community, but one Kuehlthau had been thinking about for a while.

Safety is their No. 1 concern, she said, and it’s not safe anymore.

“The homeless have gotten horrible,” she said.

Just last week, Kuehlthau said a drunk, presumed to be homeless, man came into the shop and started shouting vulgar obscenities at the female baristas.

She’s also dealt with human waste in the surrounding bushes and the drive-thru, homeless people camping on the property, and having to clean blood off of the bathroom walls.

There was one incident she mentioned of a homeless man throwing a capped syringe at the shop doors after being asked to leave. Another instance, she found two apparently homeless men sleeping on one of the tables outside when she opened the shop one morning.

Kuehlthau said she’s filed several reports with the Federal Way Police Department regarding safety concerns and break-ins about four times in the last three years. FWPD was unable to respond to requests for copies of police reports before the Mirror’s deadline.

“It’s not good for business,” she said.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Kuehlthau, but she’s looking forward to her future.

She is also working as a real estate broker for Coldwell Banker, and she’ll have more time to help with her husband’s videography business. She’ll get to have more time with her two daughters as well.

Two of her baristas are also sad to see the local coffee shop go, which will be replaced by another Starbucks location this year.

Kuehlthau said Starbucks has offered all of Marista’s baristas a position at the new location so they still have a job after the closure.

Christina Gavrishov, barista for three years, said it was bittersweet to be leaving, and she’ll miss the customers the most. She is taking a position at Starbucks when it moves in.

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