Bella Rosa’s your cup of tea (or espresso)

Gabrielle McGraw opened Bella Rosa Espresso in mid-October.  - Brad Camp/Staff Photo
Gabrielle McGraw opened Bella Rosa Espresso in mid-October.
— image credit: Brad Camp/Staff Photo

POULSBO – The way Gabrielle McGraw sees it, she has five minutes to make or break someone’s day. To make sure that five minutes goes the right way, she’s always ready with a smile, a kind word and a tasty beverage to make anyone who walks through her door feel special.

“That’s one of the things I think is lost in today’s society: people who care about you,” she said.

McGraw, the new owner of Bella Rosa Espresso, has been caffeinating Poulsbo from the corner of NE Hostmark and State Route 305 since mid-October.

The name – Bella Rosa—translates from Italian into “beautiful red.” It is a tribute to herself, her mother and her daughter, all three of whom are redheads.

And, with her Café D’arte coffee, DaVinci syrups and baked goods from Seattle’s Little Rae Bakery – a peanut-free facility – she’s garnered a following during her short time in business.

She estimates she has at least 50 customers she sees at least once a week. She makes a sincere effort to remember the big details like their favorite drinks, but also the personal details, like the names of family members and pets.

In the competitive coffee shop industry, she said it’s the details that will keep them coming back.

That certainly was the case for McGraw when, a mere two months ago, she was on the other side of the espresso machine. She was working in Seattle and lived in Burien when she decided it was time for a change in her life.

Perusing the want ads, she came across an ad for a space for lease in Poulsbo. A few days later, she came out to look at the space. Within a week from spotting the ad, she put in her two-week notice at work and decided to put her bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant administration from Washington State University to work for herself.

The 17-year veteran of the hospitality industry saw an opportunity and seized it.

She gave the space a makeover and opened shop. And she’s not looking back.

“The people are so supportive,” she said. “This is the most supportive community I’ve ever been in. Everyone just rallies around me, and they don’t even know me.”

McGraw has worked on the golden shores of Southern California, in New Orleans, and has traveled the world over. Poulsbo, she said, has a charm like no other community and this is where she is choosing to raise her 5-year-old daughter.

“I want to be in a strong community. I want some longevity. I want to put down some roots somewhere,” she said.

Customers can either drive or walk up to her front window – she’ll walk out to customer’s cars to deliver drinks – or they can walk in. And, for her customer’s convenience, she does accept credit cards.

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