Open since 2015, Preserve & Gather is a lovely coffee shop nestled in the Greenwood neighborhood in Seattle on the corner of 6th and 85th. This unassuming spot would be easy to miss from the busy street, but when the door swings open, the smell of their homemade baked goods and jams is purely irresistible. ‘
Coffee Will Survive
Coffee will survive. That’s what café owner and operator Kayla Blincow can tell you about owning a small café during a global pandemic. It took all of 6 months of working together before Preserve & Gather’s founders and owners, Kayla Blincow and Tess Smedley, knew they were destined to be business partners. It took another half-decade to get that partnership off the ground! Let’s not sugar coat things, starting a small business is no walk in the park – it’s more like an unending uphill battle filled with more dips, twists, and unforeseen obstacles than a person could imagine. But, both Kayla and Tess found support in each other as they left behind stable jobs to follow a shared dream.
The two had a lot in common from the start. They’d both returned to Seattle following graduating college. Then, when the housing market crashed and finding other work seemed out of the question, Kayla and Tess returned to the industry that they knew best. Working with and for mom & pop shops around Seattle, they fell in love with the grit, perseverance, and teamwork a small business needed to thrive. The only thing left to do if they were both going to stay in the industry forever, was open something of their own.
The Community’s Role
At first, that dream was little more than talk. After daring to utter the plan aloud, the pair worked together as servers in a local coffee shop for another five years before Tess finally gave Kayla an ultimatum: “we start this business on our own, now, or I’ll leave and go do something else with my life and career.”
After one disappointing, not-so-informative, online small-business course, they were off. Kayla and Tess knew they had the experience and connections they would need to run and operate a café. Plus, crafting their pastry recipes was second nature. But they had one more big element working in their favor. The community.
Preserve & Gather is a neighborhood café in every sense. Kayla’s gratitude is palpable when she talks about it: “I can’t imagine what it would have been like to own a café during the pandemic without being connected to a neighborhood that loves and supports you. We honestly feel so lucky.” Kayla and Tess stay deeply rooted to their mission of serving their neighbors great coffee along with the yummiest of pastries, all while creating a collaborative and welcoming space to work and visit.
Businesses like Preserve & Gather make up the heart and soul of the neighborhoods, and the city, that we all love so much. It might be easy to miss from the busy street outside, but you’d be missing out on something special. Hidden behind the concrete facade at 6th and 85th in the Greenwood neighborhood is a small yet mighty bakery and café. Take a little time out of your day to check out the hidden gems in your own backyard – they’re serving up so much more than coffee.
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