After 18 years, Walnut Street Coffee’s Pam Stuller passes the torch

Pam Stuller, right, with former employee and new owner Amy Siegel. (Photo courtesy Walnut Street Coffee)

Walnut Street Coffee, the beloved local landmark with the big garage door, the forever-happy staff, the homey vibe – and arguably one of the best cups of coffee in town — passes to a new owner Monday, May 20. Opened 18 years ago by Pam Stuller, Walnut has grown over the years into a local institution.

But it’s not just for locals.

Walnut Coffee gets regularly “discovered” by visitors to Edmonds as they walk beyond the downtown core and – often serendipitously – stumble upon this gem. They’ll order a coffee, sit back in one of the sunny outdoor Adirondack chairs, and something magic happens – life slows down a notch or two and they start to feel at home.

“One of my goals with Walnut has always been to make it the kind of place where everyone who walks in feels like a local,” explained Stuller. “We’re just enough out of the hustle and bustle of downtown, and the old building with the garage doors gives it the look and feel of an old neighborhood coffee shop.”

And that’s exactly what Walnut is. Inviting, relaxed, friendly, comfortable, never rushed — oh, and don’t forget the excellent coffee.

“I want everyone who comes here to have delicious coffee,” Stuller explains. “For me, that’s Seattle’s home-roasted Espresso Vivace. It’s a full-bodied classic northern Italian brew, and my absolute favorite coffee in the Seattle area. I so look forward to my first cup each day –   somehow the next cups just never match the pleasure of that first one in the morning.

“I’m actually kind of sad when I finish the first cup knowing I’ll have to wait 24 hours for the next one,” she added with a laugh.

Pam Stuller takes a break to enjoy a cup of Espresso Vivaci, her favorite brew that has been served at Walnut since day one. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

While creating Walnut – and continuing to create it daily – has been Stuller’s raison d’etre for the past 18 years, it wasn’t always so.

After graduating from the University of Washington in 1992 with degrees in human resources and marketing, the Spokane-bred Stuller worked a downtown Seattle job for the Nature Conservancy handling an array of functions from employee relations to setting up remote offices.

“It was an amazing place with amazing people,” she recalls. “But after about five years, I was ready to try something different.”

That was when a friend opened a coffee shop on Phinney Ridge and recruited Stuller to help set it up, build it out, hire staff and handle the voluminous paperwork involved in starting up a new business.  She worked there as a barista for a year-and-a-half, and along the way found a bond with the Phinney Ridge community and its people — and felt an increasing pull to redefine her life along these lines.

“Something clicked for me on Phinney Ridge,” Stuller explained. “It was energizing. I’ve always had the desire to make whatever I do for work really matter and that I enjoy doing, not just be something I’m stuck in till I retire.”

“Just to be sure,” she put in another year of the 9-to-5 thing in Seattle – which turned out to be a good thing – because it was there she met her future husband Steve, who shared her love for coffee and friendly neighborhood coffee shops.

“He lived in Richmond Beach, so I was spending time out there,” she explained. “Our shared love of coffee meant we were always on the lookout for neighborhood coffee spots, those little places that make you feel special.  But they were few and far between in the north end. After my experience on Phinney I felt increasingly drawn to build something similar here.

On nice days the Walnut garage doors open, creating a physical connection with the sidewalk and the neighborhood. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

“Then one day we were riding our bikes around Edmonds and found this little flower shop on Walnut Street with the funky garage doors,” she recalled. “It was a bit away from Main Street, off the tourist scene, and something in me just knew it was the place. It was like I felt that little building reaching out to me.”

She contacted the owner, but learned that the current tenant – Regina’s Flower Shop – had no plans to leave. But she left her name with the landlord, just in case.

She didn’t have long to wait.

“Six months later I got the call,” she laughed. And thus began the journey of building Walnut Coffee.

“When I took it over the building was kinda sketchy,” she continued. “The roof leaked, the paint was peeling – it needed some love. I’m not sure how old it is, but it’s been there a long time. Before being a flower shop, it was an antique furniture repair shop and before that a boat motor repair shop – but it had good bones and so much personality. I love and appreciate the history that lives inside those walls. I really feel it when I’m in there. It kinda talks to me.”

Over the years Pam has turned the shop into the embodiment of her dream. But it didn’t happen without a lot of work.

“Part of the challenge of having a vibrant successful business is paying attention to all the pieces that go into making it work,” she explained.  “I’m really hands on with it – everything from retailing, merchandising, payroll, and doing the books to pulling espresso shots. I hope I’ve made it look easy, but it’s not – it’s a 24/7 thing. I think about the little details all the time – and I care about them.”

The familiar Walnut Street Coffee sign will continue to be part of the Edmonds scene under the new owners. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

It’s been busy and demanding, but now after 18 years it’s time to move on.

“One thing I’ve always known is that when the time comes to sell the business, I’d sell to one of my employees,” she explained. “And I have the perfect person in Amy and Josh Seigel. Amy worked for me at Walnut between 2008 and 2013. During that time, she evolved into a trusted employee who loves Edmonds and understands what makes Walnut so special.”

But Amy’s life moved on – she got married and with her husband moved from their small Edmonds rental to Bothell and began raising a family. In 2021, with the kids in school, she opened her own successful coffee shop – Sidekick Coffee – in Woodinville, capitalizing on what she’d learned at Walnut.

“I am so excited to have Amy return to Walnut as the next owner,” said Stuller. “Walnut has always been more than just a business to me, and I know the community we have created here will continue under Amy and Josh.”

In addition to managing all the details of running the business, Pam Stuller can also be found behind the espresso bar making drinks.

So what’s next for Stuller?

“Job one will be to decompress,” she laughed. “I’m really excited about putting my phone in a drawer and resting for a while. I don’t have any big plans at this point. I hope to do some traveling in our camper van and maybe even clean out the garage. I know this is not my final act, but I’m really excited about having a little break.”

Stuller is upfront about the emotional hit of moving on from Walnut, an enterprise she created and nurtured for nearly two decades.

“It’s a big emotional parting for me,” she said.  “I’m so grateful for what Walnut has brought to our community, and for what our community has brought to me. I love that our tables can be filled with people talking, conversing, sharing thoughts and ideas – even across our sometimes contentious political spectrum. I hear dialog; I hear people respectfully disagreeing, and I’m humbled to think that I helped provide a place where this can happen. We’ve tried to maintain our values over the years. We take care of the planet by using compostable cups and providing plant-based milks at no extra charge. We keep our prices low – we want coffee to be an affordable treat. We care about our team and our customers.

“I just wanted to build a place with great coffee and where folks leave happier than when they arrived,” she concluded. “I’ve made friends here, and I see their gratitude and joy when they come in. I’ve seen Edmonds grow into this vibrant community, and to know I’ve been a small part of that is so rewarding. And then one day there came a point when a light went on over my head and I realized Walnut wasn’t mine anymore – it belongs to the community. I may have created it, but the community made it. My job is making sure there’s beans in here – the community does the rest.”

Stuller’s last day in the shop is Monday, May 20. There will be no fanfare as Amy and Josh take the helm.  But if you’re in the neighborhood, stop in and enjoy a great cup of coffee in a genuine Edmonds institution – and what better way to honor Pam and her vision than to just be there and be part of it.

— By Larry Vogel

  1. Thank you, Pam, for establishing Walnut Coffee Shop, the only place I go for a cup of coffee, if I am in downtown Edmonds. So happy to know this will continue on. Not mentioned, but I have found some unique gift items while standing in line to order my coffee.
    Pam and Steve enjoy your journey onward wherever it might take you.

  2. Thank you for the great article and to find out more about my favorite coffee place in Edmonds! They do have the best coffee in town and it’s always a treat to stop by and get a cup of coffee and a delicious pastry. I love that I can bring my leashed puppy (who has been coming since she was tiny) and the friendly interaction with other customers and staff-it often made my day! Thank you Pam for creating such a friendly open environment and providing a little oasis in our Edmonds community. We wish you all the best!

  3. Pam’s welcoming spirit made Walnut the happiest place in town , so congratulations to her and the whole staff for providing great coffee and so much more to life in Edmonds. It’s an an institution, may it never change (or at least not too much or too quickly).

  4. “Let’s have coffee at Walnut” will always have deep meaning for so many of us. Pam created a special place that is welcoming, evokes a genuine sense of community – and, the coffee is superb! Thank you, Pam for a job well done, and best wishes.

  5. So grateful for all you’ve given to the community Pam. And we’ve loved both your care for the earth and the quality of your coffee! We will miss you. I remember Amy well from her time at Walnut and am sure she will do a great job carrying on. All the best!

  6. Congratulations, Pam. Bob and I have been with you and your coffee from the beginning, and Walnut has always been our favorite place. I can’t wait to hear what you do next. I’m sure it will be something fun and meaningful.

  7. Walnut is the best coffee shop ever! Loved your sense of community! We will miss you and wish you a lovely future in whatever you may do!! Looking forward to seeing Amy too! Thanks for everything!

  8. Pam, thanks for the memories! Like when you closed early one day so George’s extended family could have a cuppa and a little memorial get together for him!
    Very special.

  9. My two daughters have grown up with Walnut Street, its owners and staff. The shop and its people have made a wonderful contribution to our lives and we are so happy it is staying. It is so much better than the corporate shop a few blocks away. Thanks Pam.

  10. Pam, a hearty thank you for hooking me on your coffee early on tax season mornings! Nancy & I love going to the Walnut almost every day. Whenever we travel the world and have our morning fix, we ALWAYS compare it to WSC. The coffee itself as well as the vibe.

    To quote the Bard – “Life Happens, Coffee Helps”

    Eskerrik asko eta laster arte (thanks and see you soon here in Basque country)

  11. Pam thank you for putting your heart and soul in to Walnut. You made it a place of community . Walnut was a place of solitude . Thank you .

    1. Thank you Pam for such a great place to unwind for the 11 years that I have lived here. All the best wishes to you and yours for a marvelous future. Best wishes as well to Amy.

  12. Great in-depth article, Larry!
    Pam has been such a backbone to developing our community and Walnut is a special place for many and I’m sure it will continue to be the best place for a good cup of coffee and great conversation. Best of luck, Pam and thank you for your friendship and wisdom.

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