Bayview Java and Deli: A place to meet and greet

Mary Phipp (left) and her daughter, Jill Bennett, are hoping to turn their downtown coffee bar into a place to meet. - Charlie Bermant
Mary Phipp (left) and her daughter, Jill Bennett, are hoping to turn their downtown coffee bar into a place to meet.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

When Mary Philp purchased the Bayview Java and Deli in Port Orchard two years ago, she was looking to build a family business, a thriving concern that she could leave to her family as a legacy.

“I really like this town,” Philp said. “People are friendly, and they really want to help you succeed.”

The store’s success — Philp said it is nearly profitable — has been a long road. It first needed to escape the stigma of the location, it is off the beaten downtown track in a location where parking is sometimes problematic.

It puzzled people who came in expecting to use the tanning salon, which has been closed for two years.

And there is always the setback that everyone faces, the ever-present obstacles brought about as a result of the faltering economy.

Along the way, Philp recruited her daughter, Jill Bennett, as a business partner.

They share the load, respectively handling accounting and marketing. Both make coffee, prepare food and wait tables, while positioning themselves as a prime local meeting spot.

“We did an extensive renovation,” Philp said. “And now we have a lot of regular customers looking for a place to sit down and relax.”

With the opening of its banquet room — formerly the tanning salon — Bayview is striving to become a meeting place for small groups that need to conduct business or hold an informal party in a comfortable setting.

The facility seats 60 people, with space for another 50 in the outside room.

So far, it has been used by the Lion’s Club and the Chamber of Commerce, among others.

And even if it doesn’t accommodate large meetings like the Bar Association or the monthly chamber luncheon, the recent closing of the banquet room at La Garmache has created a void that Bayview hopes to fill.

Philp hopes to attract service organizations with a pragmatic pricing structure. Someone who wants to use the room without making food or drink purchases will be charged $25.

If they buy something they can use the room for free.

Less formally, Bayview’s homey front room provides a place where locals can conduct a business meeting. Like many places, it offers free Wi-Fi, but also provides a desktop computer for those who don’t have their own laptop or smart phone.

Philp and Bennett are also developing entertainment options, hosting an open mike from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Saturday.

Additionally, the business began tryouts on Monday for “Bayview Idol,” a local (and presumably less-contentious) version of the popular reality TV show.

A second tryout will take place May 19 at 6 p.m.

“There are a lot of talented people in Port Orchard,” Philp said. “We’re giving them a place to perform.”

Philp expects Bayview Idol will draw about a dozen contestants, with qualifying shows taking place at 6 p.m. every Wednesday from May 26 to June 23.

The winner of the competition will get a $100 Bayview gift card and an oil change from co-sponsor Bay Ford.

Second and Third prizes will also be awarded.

While Bayview can get provisional permission to serve wine and beer for specific events, its lack of a liquor license limits its options.

Philp doesn't see this as a drawback because she is not looking to attract a drinking crowd.

The entertainment is varied, from a 12-year-old putting on a magic show to a local poet reading her latest verse. “I didn’t think we would have enough interest to do a separate poetry night,” Philp said. “But it fit nicely into open mike.”

Bayview gets a lot of competition from local coffee stands — which open a lot earlier in the morning — as well as the ubiquitous Starbucks.

“A lot of people only want to go to Starbucks,” Philp said. “But that’s balanced out by people who don’t like to go there.”

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