Ian Walters buys shop he has worked at since age 16

by: JONATHAN HOUSE - Ian Walters, 20, makes iced coffee at Primo Espresso on Southwest Hall Boulevard. Walters bought the store at the age of 19 after working there for four years.Frequent customers at Primo Espresso know Ian Walters well.

The Tigard business owner has practically grown up in the small coffee shop, making pastries and brewing hot espressos since be was 16 years old.

Now he owns the place, buying out the old owners at the ripe age of 19.

The barista made the switch from employee to employer last month, taking over after longtime owners Jamie and Linda Williams retired in May.

Walters, who still lives at home with his parents Don and Mary, said owning his own business was something he has always wanted to do.

“It just kind of worked out,” he said. “I always thought it would be cool if I owned Primo, but I didn’t think that would ever happen.”

Of course, convincing others that he was serious about buying the shop met with some expected speculation.

“I talked to a couple of people who thought I was joking at first,” he said.


What: Primo Espresso

Where: 15981 S.W. Hall Blvd., in Tigard

Hours: Monday through Friday: 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Call 'em: (503) 639-7746

Raising money from private investors, Walters purchased the shop and said he’s learning how to run his new venture as he goes along.

“Now that I do this, there is nothing higher on my priority list,” he said.

Walters wouldn’t reveal who his investors were, but said they were people who had a relationship with him and believed in what he was doing.

Jay Williams, the son of the former owners and a barista at the shop since it opened 20 years ago, said he’s been impressed with Walters’ work.

“It’s pretty phenomenal,” he said. “We’re still learning as we go, but we’re all getting it figured out.”

Williams, 34, said he never had a desire to take over the family business. He believes the coffee shop couldn’t be in better hands.

“My dad taught him really well,” he said. “He’s like a little brother to me.”

Walters — who turned 20 last week — began working at the coffee shop in 2009.

“I didn’t even make coffee,” he said, laughing. “I steamed milk.”

These days he arrives at the coffee shop at about 4 a.m. to bake and get the store ready.

Plans are to keep the business running the same way it has for years. However, Walters does hope to eventually extend hours and offer live music.

Whether this is a long-term career move or a stepping stone to more entrepreneurism, Walters said he wasn’t sure.

Taking a break from college to run the business, Walters said he’d like to go back to school eventually and take business and accounting courses.

“For now," he said, "I’m content with this, but I have a lot to learn.”

His parents and regular customers have been very supportive of his decision, Walters added.

“Most people are surprised,” he said. “But I know the regulars really well. People come in all the time and say, ‘If you need any help, give me a call.’”

Walters said it was those customers who drew him to buy Primo Espresso.

“I know there’s something good going on here,” he said. “I come to work and get to hang out with my friends. It doesn’t feel like work to me. Well, until I have to go make scones.”

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