Java Zombies take over Totem Lake neighborhood

Co-owners  Shanelle Allen , David Frisbie and Chris Alfano stand together at their cafe Java Zombie, located at 12093 124th Ave. N.E.  - RAECHEL DAWSON/KIRKLAND REPORTER
Co-owners Shanelle Allen , David Frisbie and Chris Alfano stand together at their cafe Java Zombie, located at 12093 124th Ave. N.E.

For those who feel groggy, irritable and not quite “there” in the morning, the owners of Java Zombie say they have the cure.

“If you’re an avid coffee drinker and you go to wherever you normally go (in the morning), and you don’t have your coffee, you feel like a zombie,” said co-owner David Frisbie. “We have the cure. We really believe that because that’s how most of us feel when we don’t have our coffee.”

And more than half of all Americans can attest to that. Nearly 60 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers claim they need a cup of coffee to start their day, according to

But Java Zombie owners did research before opening their cafe in Kirkland’s Totem Lake neighborhood Oct. 18 so they could serve patrons the best “cure” available. Local Vivace Espresso provides the best crema, which is “butter” of espresso, according to co-owner Shanelle Allen.

“It’s a creamy velvety layer of texture that sits on top of the espresso,” said Allen. “It’s got that beautiful smell, that aroma that brings you in. We have coffee that you’ll want to just drink as straight espresso.”

Aside from the coffee, Java Zombie also provides the right kind of fuel.

“The food is savory. The chipotle chicken, if you like spice, is probably one of the best things you’ll ever have. It’s my favorite, it’s his favorite,” said Allen as she pointed to Frisbie.

The cafe uses Boar’s Head meat and cheese with local bread that comes from Essential Baking Company. Their cilantro pesto and Italian pesto sauces are custom-made by Allen.

“I love to cook, I love to feed people,” she said. “It’s part of my culture and to be able to make my recipes and build them into something to deliver to people, it’s amazing.”

The most satisfying part for Frisbie and Allen, who are married, is seeing people enjoy their work, and most importantly their product.

But getting to where they are was a struggle, as it is for most small businesses.

“This was probably one of the hardest experiences I think all three of us had ever been through,” Allen said. “None of us had any experience in remodeling a restaurant. We learned a lot along the way.”

It took nearly eight months, $120,000, blood, sweat and some tears to remodel the retail space at 12093 124th Ave. N.E.

Even though it was stressful, it was “one of the most rewarding feelings” to have their work completed, they say. And Frisbie said the stress hasn’t deterred them from future expansion at all.

“We have a 10-year goal right now,” he said. “We’ll have at least 10 Java Zombies in 10 years.”

The Totem Lake residents plan on keeping the cafes “somewhat close” to the original so that they become familiar to the general public.

And even though their lease is for three years, they say they’re here to stay.

“If anything is not perfect for you, we’ll be glad to remake it without any hesitation. We’d remake it 10 times if that’s what it takes, literally,” Frisbie said. “Quality is the key to our success.”

For more information, visit, email or call 425-814-2555.


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