Busy corner, empty cafe

Starbucks has closed its Cafe Starbucks in West Seattle.

The year-old sandwich and salad kitchen was shuttered last month because it didn't attract customers, said John Yamin, Starbucks' director of new concepts.

But the coffee retailer plans to keep open its full-service Madison Park and Pacific Place cafes in Seattle, and a third Cafe Starbucks is scheduled to open in Bellevue Square's new addition in the fall.

The Seattle-based specialty-coffee chain, with 2,700 stores, began experimenting with the food-service business in fall 1998 when it opened three Cafe Starbucks.

The Seattle-area cafes are tests to see if the idea takes hold, Yamin said. If one isn't working, the company won't keep trying to make it successful.

In the 3,500-square-foot Madison Park and Pacific Place locations, seated customers can peruse a menu of pastas and sandwiches served on china dishes by waiters and waitresses.

Those two cafes are doing well, Yamin said.

The 1,600-square-foot West Seattle cafe was located on California Avenue Southwest and Fauntleroy Way Southwest and shared a parking lot with the Morgan-West Seattle Thriftway. It had a counter for made-to-order sandwiches and salads and offered little seating.

It sat on a busy corner, Yamin said, but cars didn't stop because of lack of access.

Nearby business people said access really wasn't a problem, and even foot traffic would have supported the cafe had it offered variety and quality in its food choices.

"A lot of people went in and tried it once," said Paul Kapioski, owner of the Thriftway.

Tim Jorve, a member of the family that owns the buildings housing Thriftway and the former Cafe Starbucks, said businesses near the intersection usually thrive.

Starbucks has a coffee shop directly across the street from where the cafe was located, and it performs well, Yamin said.

But the West Seattle Cafe Starbucks never met expectations.

"We learned that 1,600 square feet without table service didn't fit the motto of what we are looking to do," Yamin said.

The cafe's 15 employees all transferred to other stores.

Dori Stubbs' phone message number is 206-464-2792. Her e-mail address is: dstubbs@seattletimes.co.