From the Sanwich Bar to Starbucks, the history in pictures of 1600 East Olive Way food and drink

Before it was a Starbucks, 1600 East Olive Way had a long, colorful history as a chain restaurant stretching all the way back to the ancient days of the 1990s. OK. So, “big chain” doesn’t make for unbreakable historical legacy, but the location has, indeed, hosted some form of food and drink establishment all the way back to when the foundation of the now-overhauled building was first laid in 1937. In one of the cooler elements in the Starbucks press kit, they provided this assembly of the parade of restaurants that has filled the space since the 30s.


1938Sanwich Bar opens







1953 — Becomes the Plaid Piper “a white tablecloth, filet mignon type restaurant with a cocktail lounge in the back called the Tartan Room.”

1980Red Robin opens


1995 — Boston Market opens








1999Starbucks opens


Images: Provided by Starbucks

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19 thoughts on “From the Sanwich Bar to Starbucks, the history in pictures of 1600 East Olive Way food and drink

  1. It was a Red Robin before a Boston Market? I remember going to BM for a scavenger hunt ages ago, thought it was always that. Cool!

  2. I really miss the Boston Market…it had some very good items for takeout, at very reasonable prices, for those nights when I didn’t feel like cooking. I think it still exists in other locations, but none in Seattle (as far as I know).

    Starbucks are a dime a dozen. I’d rather have the Boston Market still there.

  3. Actually, what I *really* miss is a good neighborhood deli. Boston Market sprang up all over Seattle overnight with what seemed like poor marketing research. There wasn’t a great demand for another East coast chain. Not surprised they pulled up and left. But this part of the Hill has a surprising dearth of good lunch places. A locally owned NY style deli would be great at that spot. Starbucks…meh. I’ll check it out at some point, but I’ll probably be eating and hanging out elsewhere. Arabica, for example.

    Now if only Amante’s would take the hint and pull up stakes. Would LOVE to see a good deli in there.

  4. Boston Market in this corner of the country went away because of business issues. If memory serves me correctly, it was a mix of some dishonesty at the franchisee level mixed with the fact they expanded WAY too quickly. It was only there 2 or 3 years. I’d rather it had been a Red Robin. especially with the one on Eastlake gone now

  5. I was living in DC in the mid-90’s and the exact same thing happened with BM there — they expanded super quick and then they all closed. I wonder if they still exist anywhere?

  6. Yeah, great photo research! I’d love to see more of that. I wish the Plaid Piper had been there when I lived a couple of blocks away!

  7. I lived next to the Red Robin for 3 years when I first moved to Seattle. Such fond memories! I was so bummed when it became a Boston Market. I don’t understand why anyone would go to a Starbux there when the B&O serves way better coffee a half block away (at least until that building gets redeveloped – what ever happened to that plan?).

    Agree that the Hill could really use a good NY-style deli.

  8. When I first came to town this building was a Red Robin. Not a bad place. I like the Starbucks there. I walk by it every morning on my way to the downtown bus tunnel. Stop by every-so-often to get my coffee. The Starbucks was pretty full this morning. Lot of people out to see the new place.

  9. This location was also Henry’s Off Broadway (if memory serves) An upscale fancy restaurant. I believe it closed around ’91.

  10. I thought Henry’s Off Broadway was on the other side of Olive Way, and up a bit – the building was torn down and renovated. maybe the one where Metropolitain Cafe has been?

  11. Henry’s Off Broadway was located at 1701 E Olive Wy where the Plaza Del Sol condominium is now. the original building was torn down to make way for the condo (apartments first).

  12. This reminds me of the sad part in the ‘Crumb’ documentary where Robert illustrated a 100-year history of the same street corner.

  13. This is a great article, thank you.

    FWIW, in case some future historian stumbles on this page.

    Quick look at the Seattle Times db shows “Whiting’s Sandwich Bar” as the full name in 1938.

    The Plaid Piper applied for a license as a “music cabaret” in February 1960, and by July the Times described it as “Cheerful Scottish motif like a Scottish cottage complete with rock garden and waterfall. Varied menu, music nightly.”

    That really needs to be added back to the Olive scene.

    The pre-1937 building housed an oil furnace show room, so beware of oily film on your coffee.