University Village Starbucks is the iconic store "302." The Pike Place Market store at 1912 Pike Place is "301." This gorgeous store has always been a Starbucks hub, even before University Village was an upscale shopping center! This store has been there forever. Well, actually it's been there since September 1, 1972. As I understand it, originally it was a tiny location somewhere in the center of University Village, and then relocated to its current space in the University Village shopping center during the summer of 1994. It doesn't surprise me to learn that the Starbucks moved locations in 1994. I think that was the year that major renovation began through out the shopping center in order to develop it into the shopping destination that it is today. After digging online a bit, I found a March 1994 Seattle Times article describing the re-opening of the University Village Starbucks, as their "largest store," to open in early July 1994 and slated to be about 3,300 square feet. I am pretty sure that the 1994 relocation, and 3,300 square feet space, is the current location.
In 2009, University Village Starbucks had a major overhaul remodel. It was one of the very first stores to get the new LEED Certified design, which is now standard for stores receiving their 10-year major renovation. This store is not just LEED Registered, but rather it is LEED Gold Certified. That 2009 major remodel involved shutting this store completely down from April 18, 2009 through June 29, 2009, and its grand re-opening was June 30, 2009. By the way, I should be clear that this store has had a number of refreshes and updates between the major July 1994 opening, and the major July 2009 re-grand-opening. During the 2009 remodel, the store was stripped down to bare structural columns, and included the removal of both interior and exterior walls. Apparently, there is an aquifer close to ground level underneath the store, and this had attributed to major water damage to existing walls, so I have heard.
One thing about this store is that it is always busy. Both before and after the major remodel, it's been a store where the lobby is never empty. I knew that the only way I would ever get any photos of the lobby is to arrive before 6:00 a.m., when possibly it will still be fairly slow. This store opens every day at 5:00 a.m. I am pretty sure that at one time (briefly) this was the only 24-hour lobby Starbucks in Washington, though at this time it is NOT a 24-hour store. It is the only store that I can think of in Seattle that stays open until 2:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights (and all other nights it closes at 1:00 a.m.)
I have to apologize that the current photos are a little dark. At o'dark-thirty, there's no natural light coming in the windows.
But before I show off current photos of the store, take a look at these pictures: I took the series below on June 26, 2009, long before I knew I would ever have a blog. The store was closed during its remodel renovation, and the wood panels securing the construction site were nearly pieces of art:
One of my regular readers sent this photo from her collection, which is a great photo showing off the unique construction barrier that was at this store:
I only have a handful photos from that 2009 re-grand opening day, but I thought this was totally interesting. Look at how the Clover area has changed!
Here is 2009:
And here is October 15, 2011:
In July of 2009, Starbucks made an early attempts to experiment with an interactive touchscreen/customer education device. Take a look at the whole bean area, as it was set up in July of 2009:
Notice the monitor in the above photograph: It had an interactive touch screen where customers could click on coffee information, and learn more about the coffees sold at Starbucks. I can clearly remember thinking in 2009, that that was a horrible location for the whole bean and touch screen, and that it wouldn't last. The problem is that the line is so long at this store, that it often extends well beyond the pastry case to nearly the door. In effect, the line of people is so long (and on such a regular basis) that it effectively creates a barrier between this area of the store (which is now merchandise) and a customer who might want to gain access to that area of the store.
The chalkboard sign which says 'Explore Our Whole Bean' is now an image of the Siren. Here are a few pictures of this general area:
The menu boards at this store are interesting too. I believe that they're made from reclaimed chalkboards from an area high school. However, I definitely recall that there were complaints about these menu boards when the store re-opened in 2009. While I can't find any news stories, or blogs on the topic, some customers, as I recall, were quite irritated to discover that the menu boards list no prices on them whatsoever:
As you can see, this store has a lot of history to it, and it still is a unique and interesting location. I really had a nice visit on this early morning. One of the partners there quickly recognized me from twitter - as it turns out, he follows me on twitter. Though it did not appear that anyone in the group was an active StarbucksMelody.com reader. I ordered a Sumatra Tapanuli from the Clover, and an oatmeal, and continued taking a few pictures. Everyone was quite friendly. I chatted for a while with the partner who uses twitter, and he explained that he only recently relocated from a Starbucks in Chicago area to this store in University Village.
Here are an assortment of pictures from this October 19, 2011, visit:
This store also has a beautiful outdoor seating area, and a sign indicating its LEED Certification:
Turning back again to the 1994 - 1995 era of the University Village Starbucks history, I learned a couple of interesting things doing research for this article. I have a friend who was a partner in 1994-1995, long before her current career as an attorney, and long before I first met her.
This friend (Cherilyn) tells me that she worked at University Village Starbucks in 1994, hired shortly after the grand re-opening July 1994. She remembers that her manager later went on essentially establish the Starbucks music department. (As per Pour Your Heart Into It, that likely was "Tim Jones." Per Pour Your Heart Into It, the manager of the University Village Starbucks started the music department of Starbucks.)
She says that when Starbucks launched Blue Note Blend in 1995, the University Village Starbucks was the site of a massive celebration party. As per her recollection, it was the summer of 1995, and Starbucks hauled a grand piano into the store,brought in a jazz pianist, and set up balloons all over, and threw a fabulous party for the Blue Note launch. Cherilyn remembers that Howard Schultz was wondering around, and that the store was packed - and still open to customers wandering in and out, and wondering what was going on. In the midst of the party, due to nearby construction on the University Village site (which would make sense since this was during the development phase of U. Village) something happened with a water main, and the store had no water. They continued working, undaunted, buying massive amounts of water from the nearby QFC store, located across the street.
So this store goes down in history as kicking off and launching all the music CDs at Starbucks.
I hope you enjoyed this featured Clover Starbucks, and the small slice of the Starbucks history associated with this store. Last but not least, here is the address:
University Village Starbucks (Store #302) 4634 - 26th Avenue NE Seattle, WA 98105 (206) 522 5228
(Edit: Whether this store opened September 1972, or November 1972, is not certain. I've heard from partners that the official opening date of this store is September 1, 1972, however the Seattle Times historical archives seems to say that it opened November 1972, as reported in the Seattle Times on November 29, 1972.)