Retail Tipsheet: Fairhaven café a longtime dream for owner

Video: Shirlee Jones talks about her new café in Fairhaven

Shirlee Jones talks about the new Shirlee Bird Café she has opened in the Sycamore Square building in the Fairhaven neighborhood in Bellingham, Wash.
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Shirlee Jones talks about the new Shirlee Bird Café she has opened in the Sycamore Square building in the Fairhaven neighborhood in Bellingham, Wash.

Shirlee Jones has been daydreaming about opening an eatery for about 20 years, and now she thinks she found the perfect spot in Fairhaven.

Jones recently opened the Shirlee Bird Café in the Sycamore Square building at 1200 Harris Ave., in the former Fairhaven Smoke Shop space at the entrance. The café serves coffee and breakfast pastries as well as sandwiches, a breakfast burrito and a “waffleini,” which is a grill-pressed waffle with cheese, chutney or peanut butter.

Many of the ingredients are locally grown or produced. Jones grew up on a farm in Idaho, where her family ate the things they grew. Sitting down to eat at the farm was a calming, almost communal event, she said, and that’s something she hopes she can pass along to customers.

The place has seating, but it can also be a spot to grab items on the go, whether it’s for nearby workers and visitors or those who are traveling down Chuckanut Drive.

Jones, who is a Western Washington University graduate, said she loves the space because of the building’s charm and that it is in a ideal spot.

“The foot traffic is fantastic and the building is chock-full of life and interesting people,” she said.

Local foods that can be found in the café come from Hammerhead Coffee Roasters, Raven Breads, MicroEats, Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Olsen Farms and Avenue Bread.

When it came to changing the smoke shop into a café, Jones was fortunate to find that decades ago the space was used as a restaurant, so the basic infrastructure was already in place. As for getting rid of the smoke shop odor, Jones removed the carpet and used several layers of paint. It also helps to have something like coffee and bacon to dominate the air, she said with a laugh.

The cafe is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Details can be found on the cafe’s Facebook page or by calling 360-746-2288.


A new store called Perfume Plus Outlet is getting open at Birch Bay Square, according to the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce. The store scheduled a grand opening for Saturday, Sept. 19, and is offering sales on gift sets, perfume and cologne. ... Appliance Depot is celebrating its 10-year anniversary with an event at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, at 802 Marine Drive. The celebration includes live music, yard games, tours and refreshments. The organization provides refurbished, affordable appliances and operates a job-training program. Details can be found at ... A building permit was filed to put in a video arcade at 1240 E. Maple St., which is near Boomer’s Drive-In. ... Other tenant improvement building permit applications recently filed in Bellingham include one for a restaurant called The Grill at 1155 E. Sunset Drive and a new marijuana store called C&C Cannabis Company at 794 Kentucky St. ... The Gluten Free Angels Bakery & Café is now open at 4260 Cordata Parkway, near Whatcom Community College. The bakery will have a retail section for gluten-free breads, rolls, buns and breadcrumbs.

Reach Dave Gallagher at 360-715-2269 or Follow him on Twitter at @BhamHeraldBiz and on Facebook at BellinghamHeraldBusiness.