Bertolino's was established in 1994 by Steve Gebauer. He opened two locations, one on Union Ave in Tacoma and another on South Hill in Puyallup. He ran them for a little over a year before selling to partners Willie Easley and Dan Bacon. It didn't take long before Dan wanted out, selling his shares to Willie. A few years later Willie sold the South Hill store back to Steve leaving him with just the Union store.
Where did the name come from?
Bertolino's name stands as a testament to the fact that mothers are special. Apparently, the original founder, Steve Gebauer couldn't have thought of a better, more lasting tribute to his own mother than to open an espresso bar and name it after her. She was Italian and it was her maiden name. We liked the name and decided to keep it.
What was Willie's background in coffee?
Willie had no experience with coffee - other than drinking it - before he bought Bertolino's. It was his brother, Stephen Easley, who got him into coffee. He had started Austin Chase in Gig Harbor (along with Kent Hollloway of Fox Hollow coffee) in the 1980's and had grown it into a large franchise and wholesale roasting business. Steve Gebauer had been using Austin Chase coffee, so when he wanted to sell, Stephen Easley knew what a great location it was and suggested it to his brother.