Burien’s Olympic Coffee & Roasting Up For Sale

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by Scott Schaefer

Last week, we found this rather interesting, potential recession indicator – a Burien business listed “For Sale” posting on Craigslist:

We’ve known of Burien’s Olympic Coffee & Roasting for a while, are aware it’s been in biz since the early ’90s, have bought coffee from them, even used their free wi-fi a few times, and were somewhat shocked when we saw that it was for sale.

Olympic Coffee & Roasting is located at 17692 First Ave South in Burien.Come on – they roast their own beans in the back of the shop, making them (as far as we know) Burien’s only local coffee roaster!

Why would this business be for sale?

Is the recession really hitting the coffee biz that hard (don’t forget Starbucks recent troubles)?

We just had to know, so we did what every other good blogger/reporter would do – we called the owner and arranged to meet with him over (what else) coffee at his place.

Owner Ron Namgoung, 43, was born in South Korea, and moved to America when he was 15. He came to Washington in 1988, and bought Olympic Coffee and Roasting in January of 2006.

In addition to running this B-Town coffee institution, he works full-time at Northwest Airlines.

In other words, he’s a very busy man who puts in 17-18 hours per day doing two jobs.

But his coffee business is hurting, and he appears to be fed up. So he’s trying to sell it.

Olympic Coffee owner Ron Namgoung does double duty as a barista.

“I can no longer continue this business,” said Namgoung as he took a break from serving as his own barista, “because I have lost lots of money and still am…”

When asked why he’s losing money, Namgoung paused a moment, then declared “Many reasons – this was my first business and I feel like I was mislead by the realtors who sold it to me; there’s also a recession going on and people aren’t buying $4 lattes like they used to, and…I’m in so much debt now that I’ll probably have to declare bankruptcy soon.”

Namgoung says that he often put in $8,000 to $9,000 per month just to meet his payroll, on credit, but he’s proud that he never missed making payroll.

He ended up going into some serious debt (to the tune of $150,000+), and he now appears to have reached his limit.

And yes, he’s tried advertising in the one local (and obviously troubled) weekly newspaper, where he paid for a coupon ad for four months.

The net result from that expensive four-month coupon ad?

Three users.

But there’s still a chance he can recover, and this could be where you, our faithful and generous B-Town Blog Reader, comes in.

“If I can sell 160 more pounds of coffee beans per week, I can stay in business,” he said in a hopeful voice.

There's plenty of seating available at Olympic Coffee & Roasting. Maybe that's why the business is for sale.That works out to around 26-1/2 pounds of coffee per week for six local espresso stands, which doesn’t sound like that tall (or venti in this case) of an order.

Will Ron be able to find enough vendors to buy more beans?

Or will he have to sell this Burien institution?

Stay tuned…and in the meantime, why not drop by Olympic Coffee & Roasting and buy some of their freshly-roasted beans (we did, and they’re excellent), buy a cuppa joe, or perhaps just outright buy the entire business.

Feel free to contact Ron with any offers or ideas – he’s all ears:

Ron Namgoung
(206) 755-4569 – cell #
[email protected]

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