Brendan McGill’s Cafe Hitchcock—an undersung gem in a part of downtown with limited dining options—will spin off a satellite cafe of sorts around the corner.
Technically, Cafe Hitchcock Express is in the same building as its predecessor. But while Cafe Hitchcock’s entrance is midblock on First Avenue, this express version is around the corner at Second and Marion, by a completely different entrance to the historic art deco Exchange Building, and technically four floors up from Cafe Hitchcock, thanks to Seattle’s steep hills.
The corner space with huge windows used to be a Tully’s, but by late April it will sling Caffe Vita espresso on a mega-legit Kees van der Westen espresso machine, plus a grab-and-go lineup that is unmistakably Hitchcock—a bacon PB&J, lentils with dandelion greens and sherry vinaigrette, a great cobb salad, a rice bowl dressed with herb pesto, kale, feta, avocados and fermented hot sauce.
McGill and crew tinkered with names for their spinoff, and finally settled on Cafe Hitchcock Express because the liked the acronym, CHE. Right now the setup is temporary, says McGill, a popup of sorts. If all goes well, there’s a chance CHE would take up permanent residence in this former Tully’s.
When McGill began observing the flow of people at the Exchange Building’s Second Avenue entrance, he saw an entirely different crew than the folks who come to Cafe Hitchcock. “So many people up there wouldn’t go down four floors and around the block and stand in a lunch line for a cup of coffee.”
Coffee will be big here; in addition to all the Hitchcockian housemade syrups and the dedication to organic milk and plenty of milk alternatives, CHE will serve the same line of “wellness lattes” that have been a hit downstairs at Cafe Hitchcock. They come in variations like turmeric and matcha, but the runaway hit is the Seattle Fog, a latte which leans on CBD oil, marijuana’s non-psychoactive compound, known for simply making people feel more relaxed.
McGill is certainly a chef who knows his way around porchetta and salted chocolate chip cookies and tasting menus. But he's increasingly an advocate for balancing all that good stuff out with more mindful fare. The wellness lattes stem from research for his Verjus juice project. He says Cafe Hitchcock's coffee sales went up by 50 percent after he introduced the Seattle Fog; hard-charging regulars who might otherwise have a beer to relax have turned to these instead.
Look for CHE to open in late April, and expect it to look nothing like a former Tully's. Over the years, McGill has amassed multiple pieces of artwork by Aleks Dmitrijevcik of the much-mourned La Bete, and will display it on the walls here. Coffee and grab-and-go action will happen Monday through Friday from 7 to 3.