The Stafford expands ties to community with new venture

by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Bubbly barrista Carolyn Nolin serves up joy along with coffee at The Overlook. The community is invited to come in and give the new establishment a try.

Carolyn Nolin had to expand her duties when The Stafford held the grand opening for The Overlook, its new pub-coffee house, on Sept. 4.

“I must have blown up a million balloons,” said Nolin.

But Nolin is much more than a balloon blower. She is head barista for The Overlook, which has the goal of being the hangout not just for the residents of The Stafford but anyone in the surrounding community, young, old and in between. A big target customer base is right down the street at Lakeridge High School.

“Our goal is to reach out to the community,” said executive chef Michael Schultz. “We want teachers and students to stop by. We’ve got everything that Starbucks has.”

But not even Starbucks has Nolin. The bubbly barista spent a happy decade in the quaint West Linn neighborhood of Willamette, where she developed the skills that made her something of a barista super star. She moved to The Stafford because she got a good sales pitch.

“I was going strong on a Sunday, brewing and shaking,” Nolin said. “Their former chef came in and told me ‘I need a great lady to help with the coffee and the residents at The Stafford.’ I figured that was me. I was so excited to get such a great opportunity.”

“Baristas are like bartenders,” Schultz said. “Once you get a good barista, people follow them to the ends of the earth.”

Or in Nolin’s case, all the way from Milwaukie. Her attitude is unbeatable.

“People appreciate a good friend,” Nolin said. “That’s what a barista is — a good friend who makes good coffee.”

Nolin may be a great coffee lady, but she is no prima donna.

“It always helps to listen to your customers,” she said. “It helps you to make them the coffee they want.”

Around mid afternoon, The Overlook transforms from a coffee house into a pub. Besides drink specials and a happy hour, the pub serves a menu of sliders, pizza and other delicacies that go well with beer or wine.

Schultz is also looking for milkshake drinkers.

“Now I’m seeing kids sitting here having shakes and fries,” he said.

There is an obstacle, though. Schultz said people from outside The Stafford are hesitant to come there because it is mainly a community for senior residents. But with all The Stafford’s dining operation is now offering — the Melange Restaurant, catering, barbecues and special events — non-residents are getting the idea that The Stafford is a good place to drop by.

“There’s lots of fun stuff happening at The Overlook,” Schultz said.

The Overlook is open every day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is located at 1200 Overlook Drive in Lake Oswego.

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