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WANTED: Drive-through brew

By Keegan Prosser on February 13, 2013 – No Comment

Loud and About Column by Heija Nunn

I like coffee. I like to have a cup of brewed coffee in the morning to carry around the house keeping my hands cozy while I survey the day’s mess, wrinkle my nose at undone paperwork and emit periodic, but super loving “wake-up” shrieks. Sometimes I take this cup with me on Sistafoo’s school run. More often though, I find it later, half-full and abandoned as I stomp up, down and around turning off “every light in the house!”

If I find myself out and about early in the day or late afternoon you might find me at any one of many different coffee purveyors, because while I do have my preferences for brand, flavor and corporate philosophy, for me, the number one predictor of where I will spend my coffee dollar is convenience, even if that “convenience” takes me seven miles out of my way.

The other day I had to do an early morning run to trade my free loaner for life for my own car in Seattle. The service department staff knows me too well. I can’t wear atrocious pj’s and slippers anywhere else.

On the way home, I weighed my appearance against my fervent desire for coffee. As I drove past Husky Stadium, I silently lamented, no cursed, Bellevue’s absolute dearth of coffee drive-thrus. Moments later, seemingly without my own conscious thought, my car was off-course for home and on course for drive thru coffee…on Mercer Island!

I should not have to drive seven miles out of my way just to be lazy. Parents of infants and sleeping children should not have to stop, park and dodge raindrops just because Bellevue considers itself too cool for drive-thrus. I know I am not the only person who will drive past the Downtown Bellevue core to get drive thru caffeine in Kirkland, Mercer Island, East Bellevue, Redmond and Renton.

The absence of drive thrus in the Downtown Bellevue core is not an accident. Years ago I was told that certain Bellevue business leaders had driven (get it?) the effort to ban drive-thrus in the Downtown Bellevue core under the guise of becoming a pedestrian friendly city. The zoning rule against drive-in windows at food establishments in the downtown core means that only grandfathered drive-thrus are allowed, and not accidentally, we instead have to fight for limited parking spaces at few stand-alone restaurants and cafes, or go to the mall. Hmmn.

If the downtown Bellevue Arby’s or KFC locations had been immediately occupied and maintained as similar businesses, we might have more family-friendly options today. I am not suggesting we need more fast food places, but I am suggesting (begging) for some reasonable alternatives to the mall with ample parking and perhaps – gasp – a drive thru with coffee!

Challenging the Downtown Bellevue zoning powers-that-be sounds exhausting, so I would like to suggest a work-around. I am talking to you McDreamy! Take a look at the Bellevue zoning map, study it closely, read the rules, (call me, I can help) and give Bellevue equal pajama-clad access to caffeine and other goodies by opening a drive-thru with attached café near auto-row. Northeast Fourth Street is about to be expanded to the east, and with the United States Postal Service looking for ways to cut costs, maybe the Midlakes Station can become a Sip and Ship with attached drive thru. Easy freeway access will guarantee a steady, if jittery customer base, and sleeping babies and cops everywhere will thank you.

Wanna say Hiya to Heija? Follow her on Twitter (@Heija) Friend her on Facebook or relax, sit back, and silently judge her life in the flickering glow of your computer screen at her blog The Worst Mother in the World.