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.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Business

Kabal Gill stands in front of a shattered window of his restaurant East India Grill in Federal Way on May 14. Olivia Sullivan/the Mirror
‘We fear for our safety’: Several windows of local Federal Way restaurant shot, shattered

Police say damage to East India Grill windows appears to be from BB gun pellets.

KD Hall, CEO and principal consultant at KD Hall Communications in Federal Way. Courtesy photo
3 BIPOC-owned small businesses in Federal Way receive marketing, technology grants

Three Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses in Federal… Continue reading

The Moe Vegan food truck serves meals at the city of Kent’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 21, 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

39 fire authorities have reportedly agreed to standardize fire codes and inspections.

Best of Federal Way 2021
More Best of Federal Way winners/finalists share insights into success

“We focused on meeting our clients where they are.”

Marcus Wright.
Federal Way man’s dog training business thrives during pandemic

What started as man’s best friend has turned into a thriving business… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Fastsigns Federal Way (32610 Pacific Highway S. Suite b-4 in Federal Way).
Shop Local campaign supports FW business community

A local business campaign has now grown into a go-to site for… Continue reading

T
Tantalize your taste buds with these winning restaurants in Federal Way

Yes, it is possible to eat your way through Federal Way. While… Continue reading

Most of the Brickyard Pub staff members pictured at the bar's Christmas party in 2017. Photo courtesy of Celeste Locke
Brickyard Pub is here for a good time and a long time

Neighborhood pub voted Best Bar/Nightclub in Federal Way.

Most Read