Whenever Doug Kroon wants to reminisce, he just has to glance at a wall inside his restaurant.
Near the kitchen of the Knead & Feed is a painting that shows Kroon looking cool with hands in his pockets, scruff on his face and donning plaid pants representative of the groovy style of the mid 1970s.
“Look at those pants,” Kroon said dryly this week.
The art work, painted by Beatrice Powell, holds special meaning to Kroon because it traces the history of a family business on historic Front Street in Coupeville that is dear to him, his siblings and other relatives who’ve worked there.
The painting is inspired by a photo taken of Kroon in 1974 standing near the entry of the Knead & Feed at its initial location in Mariners Court.
Despite a sign on the store front establishing the restaurant’s beginning a year early, 1974 was when it all started for Kroon, who along with his brothers and business partners Thom and Jerry are celebrating the restaurant and bakery’s 40-year anniversary.
Since 1975, the Knead & Feed has rested at its present location at 4 N.W. Front Street in a waterfront building that dates back to 1871.
“Family is the biggest thing at this place,” Doug Kroon said, sitting and sipping a cup of coffee in the restaurant. “My father literally built the room we’re sitting in.”
The Knead & Feed features a bakery on Front Street and a restaurant one floor beneath, accessed by an exterior stairwell from the street above or beach below.
When the Kroons bought the portion of the building that houses the restaurant and bakery, a major renovation was in order to convert the lower floor that had long been used for storage.
During the remodel, they discovered Chinese writings on the walls and Chinese coins on beams, adding validity to rumors that the building was once a Chinese laundry.
From the outset, the business was run by family with all seven of the Kroon children playing a role at some point along the way.
Jeannette Omar, one of four sisters, took charge from early on and ran the Knead & Feed for close to 30 years, Doug said.
It wasn’t until five years ago that she retired, letting her brothers run the business.
Standing the test of time, the Knead & Feed has developed a reputation for producing its own bread and pastries, an all-day breakfast menu and lunches that feature homemade soups, salads and sandwiches.
Marionberry pies are a favorite, but nothing compares to the fuss created over its cinnamon rolls.
Doug Kroon points to a loyal, local following of customers and work crew for the business’ success.
He said the foundation for success, hard work ethic and an emphasis on education was instilled in the family by their parents Mel and Iris Kroon.
Mel Kroon, a builder, brought his family to Coupeville in 1965 to run Camp Casey for Seattle Pacific University. Iris Kroon taught elementary school.
All seven of their children earned college degrees.
In turn, the Kroon brothers have focused on giving back to the community with an emphasis on helping Coupeville schools and the arts.
Earlier this month, the restaurant held a special dinner with all proceeds for everything but alcohol donated to the Community Foundation for Coupeville Public Schools.
Doug Kroon said he and his brothers decided to make it an annual event.
For him, Coupeville is home. Everywhere, there are familiar faces.
“I went to high school with the mayor,” Doug said. “She graduated high school with my sister.
“It’s still a small town.”