Shifts & Shakeups

This Week in Restaurant News: Pizza Robots and Coffee Woes on Capitol Hill

Five dining developments on our radar this week.

By Annika Lindburg and Rosin Saez October 4, 2019

Picnic's pizza robot can make up to 300 12-inch pies per hour. 

A Caffeine Queen

Fortune has named Starbucks chief operating officer Roz Brewer one of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" (she ranks 28th). In a longform feature on Brewer, the magazine noted the COO's entry into a tumultuous moment in the company's history—"store traffic flatlining," alleged racial bias, a Howard Schultz exit. Brewer was able to help turn it around, trimming the excess, like the Tazo tea and Mercato limbs of the company. It's almost like a fat-free latte business acumen, if you will allow this one coffee pun.

We're Number 4! We're Number 4!

The Emerald City is getting greener—in terms of food, that is. According to The Seattle Times, a WalletHub study crowned Seattle the fourth top city for vegans and vegetarians. We'll take it! Out of 100 top cities, Seattle also placed in the 26th percentile of restaurants serving meatless items, and in the 40th percentile of Seattle restaurants serving animal-free options (ahem, a list of some of the best vegetarian restaurants for your consideration). From the Impossible Burger to a local startup’s “chicken” nuggets, vegan meat substitutes are serious business. Read more about the plant-based phenomenon in the October issue of Seattle Met.

Grocer Growth

H Mart, the Korean supermarket chain known for Asian foods like melon soda and onion tofu chips, is opening a new store on Broadway, according to Capitol Hill Seattle. At 16,000 square feet, the new development will be home to apartment complexes, retail, and community spaces, all set to open in 2020. Despite the prime location—the north entrance of the Capitol Hill Link light rail station—it was a challenge to lock in tenants; both New Seasons and Central Co-op were potential markets before H Mart swooped in.

Artificial Intelligence, Real Pizza

An Interbay-based company called Picnic recently revealed its prototype of "the first intelligent, all-purpose automated assembly platform designed for the food service and hospitality industries," reports the Seattle Times. A disc of dough—still made by humanfolk, by the way, likewise sauce and toppings—is placed on an assembly line so that the smart machine can read the dimensions and make a pizza (actually many pizzas very quickly) from there. It's gone through beta testing at T-Mobile Park so far.

What's Going On at Caffe Vita?

Short answer: vastly divergent philosophies. Two Capitol Hill Caffe Vita employees were recently fired over disagreements on policies regarding giving free food and drink to people experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood (five others quit shortly thereafter). According to Capitol Hill Seattle, Caffe Vita sent an email to staff, warning them that giving houseless folks freebies could enable and increase homelessness. On October 2, former baristas protested outside the Capitol Hill shop. In a more recent social media post, Caffe Vita issued a mea culpa of sorts, promising to do better.

This Week in Food & Drink

Poppy's successor, chef Nathan Lockwood's Carrello, is now open on Capitol Hill. Pasta, salumi-bearing carts, bone-in ribeye steak for three!

Arguably the most PNW event of the year, Elliott's Oyster House's enormous bivalve bash returns on November 2—with a 150-foot oyster bar, no less.

There’s just something special about patties smashed onto cast iron or a flat-top griddle for that crispy exterior.

Seattle has officially lost one of its most beloved restaurants. Little Uncle quietly closed last weekend.

A (literally) appetizing cause comes to Seattle October 1–13: 15 star chefs will dish up seafood to benefit our region's beloved black-and-white whales.

Alcoholic seltzer has boomed as of late—and landed in Seattle, too. San Juan Seltzery Taproom is open in SoDo with a seafood-heavy menu from Ethan Stowell.

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