PROSSER — On a marker board that lists specials and upcoming events at Becky’s Coffee Corner and Video is this line: “Live action, java jolts and daily abuse, what more can you ask for?”
Owner Becky Jansen has certainly lived up to that pronouncement, often jabbing at regulars with plenty of sarcasm.
Her two daughters, who both work for her, play off their mother’s humor and join in.
But in truth, the “daily abuse” is their way of showing affection for their customers.
“Our whole family is this way,” she says. “The kids got that from me. I do love (interacting with) people.”
Becky, 53, took over the coffee and video shop at 1120 Meade Ave., along with a coffee stand at the local hospital, about a decade ago. Before that she held a variety of jobs, including waitress and bartender.
She says she feels just as much at home running a coffee shop as she did mixing drinks. There are even shot glasses, Becky jokes: “You just don’t have the alcohol.”
From the beginning, Becky’s family has been involved in the business.
Daughters Lura and Holly Jansen are the most involved. Lura, 30, pulls espresso shots alongside her mother.
Younger sister Holly, 23, works at the video store inside the same building. For Holly, a cinephile who can lead her siblings in conversations that consist of movie quotes, working at the video store is ideal.
“I’m not a coffee drinker or maker,” Holly says.
Becky’s son, Cody, 27, worked at the shop during his high school and college years and now lives in Seattle. But he’s still plugged in. It’s not unusual for him to send his mother ideas for the business based on what he sees around the big city.
Becky’s husband, Harmon, plays a more behind-the-scenes role; he buys supplies for the business. Harmon, who does maintenance for the Prosser School District, is also the go-to guy for the shop’s maintenance issues.
More recently, however, Harmon has played a more visible role, in the shop’s “Find Harmon” game. Becky hides a flat cardboard replica of Harmon in different businesses throughout downtown Prosser, and usually posts clues on the shop’s Facebook page to help customers find him.
Any customer who finds him and brings him to the shop gets a free drink.
“Harmon” has even traveled on vacation with customers — he recently was seen in Palm Springs, Calif., Friday Harbor and Las Vegas.
And then there’s Lilly, Lura’s 7-year old daughter, who spends so many afternoons after school at Becky’s Coffee Corner that “some of Lilly’s friends think this is her house,” Lura jokes.
Like her mother and grandmother, she knows all the customers by name and has adopted the family’s trademark sarcasm.
Becky’s daughters say the line between mom and boss can get blurry. For example, if a customer is rude to them, Becky finds it difficult not to rush to their defense as a mom, while the boss in her knows just to let it pass.
And on some days, patience seems more limited with family. The three Jansen women say they all are stubborn in their own way, which can create conflict.
“You expect more out of them,” Becky says.
But working with family has its perks. When one of them needs time off, it’s usually easy to get a family member to fill in. And working at the coffee shop has also enhanced their already-close relationships.
The shop has become a central gathering place for the family.
“We even come down (to the shop) when we’re not working,” Lura says.
The customers, Holly added, “are extended family.”
And with plenty of seating, games and even a small library, the shop sends a clear message that they’re welcome to stay for a while. The shop is even decorated with photos and artwork from customers.
“We want people to come in and feel comfortable,” Lura says.
Behind the counter is a wall of coffee mugs that customers pick up from their travels, some from as far away as Chile, Thailand and France.
Becky quips that collecting the mugs is her way of traveling, since she’s working a lot at the shop.
“I get everywhere,” she says with a laugh.
Becky says she worries about her customers like family. It’s not unusual for her or her employees to check in on a regular if they haven’t been seen at the shop for a while.
“Our customers are our lives,” Becky says. “They are just a part of us.”
• Mai Hoang can be reached at 509-759-7851 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.