Industry News | May 7, 2012 | QSR Exclusive Brief

SODO Kitchen Builds on Starbucks’ Mission

SODO Kitchen opened its doors last week in Starbucks’ corporate headquarters in Seattle. The cafeteria-style eatery is open to the public and brings with it a commitment to sustainability and local produce.

Bon Appetit Management Company operates SODO, which stands for South of Downtown. Located on the third floor of Starbucks Center, the cafeteria is targeted at Starbucks employees, but also open to the public.

“Quality of food, for us, is first,” says Rick Stromire, general manager of SODO Kitchen. “I think that was more the deciding factor [to be approached by Starbucks] than anything, that we match their qualities also.”

The area lacks restaurant options overall, and Stromire says it does not help that SODO is hidden away in a corporate building.

“It’s just hard to see,” he explains. “It’s in a building. You don’t realize there’s a full-fledged restaurant inside the Starbucks headquarters. We’re working on a PR campaign to focus on some of the local business down here.”

In the meantime, SODO kitchen is focusing on advancing its sustainability and local initiatives, Stromire says.

At 12,648 square feet, SODO offers a variety of dining stations, including a global food bar, grill, brick-oven, greens, rotisserie, deli, and soup station. The aim, Stromire says, is to create a bountiful variety between classic comfort food, such as mac ‘n’ cheese, and simple, healthy dishes like gilled fish.

“There’s not really a whole lot of great places to eat in this area,” Stromire says. “[At SODO] we get to educate them on the global side with real, authentic global food, and on the grill, we can given them good, downtown plate food. They really get a mix.”

The response, he says, has been terrific. “They trust us, so they really will try different foods … and give us their honest opinions. Sometimes they may not like it, but they always appreciate the opportunity to try something new and different.”

By Sonya Chudgar