Light shines in K Bay Caffe’s new location

Since its opening in 1998, K Bay Caffe has boasted “the best latte on the peninsula.” Now it can boast something else: a bright, open, south-facing location with lots of space.

The new building, which opened its doors Sept. 17, is located at 378 E. Pioneer Ave., next door to the car wash on Svedlund Street and directly across the street from the cafe’s former rented home next to Refuge Chapel. 

Owners Michael McGuire and Caressa Starshine bought the building from Orca Plumbing last August, and the cheery facilities inside are the product of a 10-month renovation.

“It’s like walking into cafe heaven,” remarked one customer on Friday.

This first week has been hectic, McGuire says. Besides moving locations, the owners also are training several new staff members, including Tyler Schlieman, a coffee specialist who spent five years in the Lower 48 studying the art of the perfect roast. 

“It feels unprecedented,” says Schlieman, who moved to Homer last month from New York, about K Bay and its new location.

McGuire says 90 percent of the food on the menu is available in the cafe this week. But the real party will start on Saturday, Oct. 3, when he and Starshine plan to have a grand opening. The all-day celebration will feature live music. McGuire says they chose a Saturday so that friends from the rest of the peninsula could make it to town for the event.

Against the left wall in the cafe, a low wooden stage awaits performers. As they did in the old location, McGuire and Starshine will host musical acts as well as poetry slams, speakers and educational events. He says they’re also getting a projector to make visual art a part of the cafe experience.

Even in the smaller, darker building across the street, K Bay was  a popular Homer destination with a loyal following. But McGuire has even higher hopes for the new location as a community gathering place.

“The whole thing is based on the idea, treat others the way you want to be treated,” he says. “So what you see is what Caressa and I want for ourselves: vegetarian food and great coffee. We also want to zone out on our computers and look out at the bay and play music and be with people. So we’re providing a space where we can do that and so can the community.”

One feature McGuire is especially excited about is the new organic vegetarian and vegan food menu.

“Everybody feels it when the Spit shuts down,” he says. “We’ve all worked so hard to get through the summer and then people take time off, so there aren’t as many food options.”

In particular, he hopes the new offerings will make evenings easier on Homerites who get home late in the evening and don’t have the energy to cook.

 “People here really give all day long and come home at dinner time and want to be able to eat. Sitting down at a restaurant is awesome but not an option for every night. So we really hope to fill that niche and help provide some more options,” McGuire says.

Both the new location and the drive- through stand next door are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with shorter hours on Sunday.

Looking around at the cafe, already packed with smiling customers, McGuire says he has a lot of people to thank.

“The process of renovating and rejuvenating a building in the heart of Homer is a collaborative effort, and we’ve had a lot of people help us. I can’t tell you how much they’ve contributed and believed in K Bay to make this possible,” he says. “The people who’ve come to lend their energy have really been amazing, incredible.” He’s especially proud of the fact that the renovation relied solely on locally raised funds.

While the new cafe isn’t in its finished state, McGuire says he can’t wait for the community to come on down and see for themselves if it’s worth the hype.

“It’s something I hope Homer is proud of and wants to share, a reflection of how awesome this town is. K Bay could exist anywhere, but not like it does here.”

Annie Rosenthal can be reached at