The food service company responsible for Seattle Art Museum's Taste and the cafeteria at Seattle University is hoping to transform Starbucks corporate headquarters into a destination for coffee tourists.
Bon Appetit Management Company this week opened its third-floor restaurant, fashionably christened SoDo Kitchen, to the public for breakfast and lunch. A release promotes the 12,000-square foot facility - "we prefer to call our locations cafés, not cafeterias," Bon Appetit communications director Bonnie Powell chastises via e-mail - as a sustainably-sourced dining option for neighborhood workers and Starbucks pilgrims.
"Visitors whose itineraries include morning coffee at the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market can make the 10-minute drive for lunch in the building where all the magic starts," suggests Suzi An of Suzuki+Chou Communimedia, the Seattle firm handling local publicity.
An concedes Starbucks' headquarters isn't currently on too many tourists' to-do lists. "Mainly because it's been just an office building," she explains.
Tourists won't be granted access to a taqueria and sushi bar that Bon Appetit has opened on another floor. But the main eating venue includes six hot food stations, a sandwich deli and pizza oven.
According to An, Starbucks has no plans to woo coffee drinkers to its headquarters: Visitors posing for pictures outside the Pike Place shop won't be issued dining invitations. But Powell says Bon Appetit is working to get the restaurant on tourists' radars. The company's using Twitter and Facebook to persuade help Starbucks drinkers that their Seattle trips aren't complete without a lunch of Draper Valley tandoori chicken taken alongside Starbucks' accountants.
"We're promoting SODO Kitchen as a coffee-tourist destination through advertising in traditional media and through our social media presence," Powell says. "We can't really estimate how many will take us up on it."
Sounds like a good conversation topic to raise with the Starbucks' number crunchers at the salad bar.