Words by Cheyenne Mathews
Photos by Young Kim
Business might as well be the middle name of the McGee family members. In September of 2017, the McGee women, mother Darcel, and daughters Emily and Alex opened up Kingfisher Coffee in Spenard. Having her own coffee shop had been a longtime dream for Darcel, and when a location opened up, that dream started to become a reality.
“She had always wanted to run her own coffee shop, own and operate her own, so this [is] kind of [a] happy accident,” Alex said of her mom.
“People expect silliness and fun and yet they could come and talk to us. A lot of them do. The coffee is a bonus,” Darcel added. “It’s the friendships we built is why we started this.”
Alex is a Washington State University marketing graduate and Emily is a psychology student at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Both of them live and work with their parents, but Alex said that previous jobs working with their mom has helped her navigate this added business dynamic to their relationship. Their dad Marty is no stranger to the family business dynamic either, as he grew up in a real estate and construction family business.
“I like the idea of having a family run business,” Marty said. “I grew up in one like that and my family was always close because of it. We developed the same kind of relationship where you have to allow all the family members to be business partners too, so you have to give them room and it’s not like you’re parenting all the time. The relationship changes. I like seeing that with these guys.”
The girls and their brother Mathew are fourth generation Alaskans, and their parents tried to help them become entrepreneurs and involved community members. Since starting their business in Spenard, Kingfisher Coffee has been able to develop with the area.
“It’s cool to see Spenard grow, too,” Alex said. “I feel like even in the time we’ve been there, it’s changed a lot.”
Darcel worked at Cafe Del Mundo before starting her own shop, and while she brought over a few customers from her previous location, she’s been happy to grow a base of close-by Spenard regulars. Darcel is the kind of woman who wants to sit and chat with her customers and develop friendly relationships with them. She hopes to one day own a larger establishment where customers can come, sit, chat and enjoy the venue. Until then, she hopes to see Kingfisher Coffee grow its regular customer base.
“Financially it hasn’t met what we need, but customer wise we are thrilled,” Darcel said.
“We’ve built a lot of really great relationships with people,” Alex added.
“And that’s why we started this. We like people.” Darcel said.
The kingfisher logo, which Alex designed, is based off of a friendly kingfisher that visits the family home each summer. You can try Kingfisher Coffee for yourself and see the McGee family at work at 3831 Spenard Road.