Joule adds Eat Local Capitol Hill, GNC to Broadway retail recipe

Eat Local’s Greg Conner (Image: CHS)

CHS has learned of two more pieces set to fill in the puzzle that is the Joule building’s remaining 13,000 square feet of Broadway retail space. According to people involved with the ventures and city records, Capitol Hill will soon have a new outlet for a major vitamin and wellness chain on north Broadway. But the more interesting addition is a market concept featuring locally-sourced, sustainability-minded prepared meals and foods that has become so popular on Queen Anne that many customers were making the trek from Capitol Hill to shop there.

“It made sense,” Eat Local’s owner Greg Conner tells CHS. “We have a lot of customers up there. Our customers asked us to come to the Hill.”

For Conner, his Capitol Hill store’s planned summer opening will mark the third location of a slow expansion of a business that began in 2007 but has roots going back to his family’s decades of farming in the region. The Eat Local concept is based in a mix of  convenience plus consciousness — and ongoing refinement. “Everything is from the most local sources we can find,” Conner said. “We get closer and closer. We didn’t start with handmade pasta but now it’s a part of what we do.”

What Eat Local does in its Queen Anne store located in part of an old neighborhood dry cleaning business is provide a series of freezer cases filled with prepared entrees and shelves with Washington wines and beers as well as some hand-crafted surprises like (delicious) spelt graham crackers. The cases are arranged by serving size from the single serving section (should be a good place to meet people) to the four or five serving family (and friends) section. Containers are color coded to indicate preference types such as vegetarian or chicken or beef. Most of the meals are also available in reusable glass containers that can be returned to the store like milk bottles.

Before (Images: CHS)

After (Images: CHS)

The marketing pitch will make you feel better about yourself just by reading it:

Eat Local prepared meals are hand-made in our kitchen, from scratch, using traditional cooking methods and house-made stocks.  We cook with Northwest grass fed & finished meats, free range chicken and organic or sustainably grown produce.   

Our meals are frozen immediately after cooking to maintain flavor, nutrients and quality without the use of added chemicals, preservatives or fillers.

And, as you can imagine, the prices match the inflated sense of purpose in every meal. Single serving entrees clock in around $10 and up. A family serving of beef stroganoff will set you back $43. And, yes, that pack of graham crackers is $5.98. You can check out the offerings, scoff at the prices — and plan your meals for when you decide it’s not healthy to live on Top Ramen — on Eat Local’s online ordering site.

While many choose to have their meals delivered, Conner said supporting a brick and mortar retails space is important to Eat Local. “For us, it’s all about the stores — for our farmers and our customers. We provide things like CSA drop sites and it builds a sense of community.”

That sense of community won’t come cheaply on the Hill. The records for the new store document a $216,000 construction for the build-out. Conner said most materials for the store will be reclaimed including the set of shelves and fixtures salvaged from what was left of a 1962 World’s Fair exhibit still being stored at the Seattle Center.

The new space is being designed by Prentiss Architects.

“It’s going to be a bigger store with a more expanded selection,” Conner said, comparing the Capitol Hill project to his Queen Anne outlet. “It will be the first time we build from scratch.” 

Production of the meals will continue at the Eat Local headquarters in Burien.

The prepared meals market will be joined in the Joule retail by a new GNC Live Well store, according to city records. Construction permits for a space for the vitamin and supplement provider are filed and the work will be underway shortly. The construction budget is listed at just over $50,000. The two new additions further round out the mix of services and restaurants that have made the Joule home. We wrote about some of the challenges the building’s developers faced in filling the retail portion of the building back in summer 2010. Not long after, we learned of the new Umpqua Bank joining the line-up. Recent additions include the UPS Store (which moved down the street) and Portland-based health clinic concept ZoomCare. The building is also home to restaurants Blue Moon Burger, Mod Pizza, Saizen Sushi and Qdoba. The largest puzzle piece — more than 4,000 square feet of retail in the large unit at the corner of Republican and Broadway — remains unfilled.

At Eat Local, Conner said the store will need to hire about a dozen workers to staff the new location with hours likely to run 8a-9p when it opens this summer. Like the Queen Anne store, Eat Local Capitol Hill will have a coffee bar and feature goods from Empire Ice Cream, Theo Chocolate, Fish Tale Organic Beer, Parker Pickles, and Holmquist Hazelnuts in addition to the Eat Local meals.

The Capitol Hill store also gives Conner an opportunity for an even more local Eat Local experience. He moved to Capitol Hill this fall. 

Inside the Queen Anne store (Images: CHS)

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

15 thoughts on “Joule adds Eat Local Capitol Hill, GNC to Broadway retail recipe

  1. So far in my single adult life, I’ve been too lazy/disinterested to cook, deferring nightly to just phoning in/picking up dinner up at a Cap Hill restaurant. Given that I’m already failing miserably at my New Year’s resolution to at least *try* to cook 1 meal every other week, you’d think I’d view Eat Local as a serendipitous savior allowing me to half-ass my way to culinary success.
    However, upon further introspection I now realize that I feel both impatience and disdain at the thought of even having to put the frozen, pre-made food in the oven. (sigh)


  2. … and it’s not two new Thai restaurants. Reason tells us that the vitamin and wellness store is likely a complete scam while eat local seems only half-scammy. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  3. We used to buy frozen dinners from Eat Local but the drive was a pain so I’m happy to hear they are going to be closer. Good for the extra freezer but they’re pretty spendy. I hope they rotate their offerings more frequently because in my experience their meals tend to taste the same and blend together. Mix it up more often and add new recipes would be my hopes for their store here. I do wish them good luck as I do all local businesses.

  4. At those prices, the food better be very, very good. And, no matter how great a dish is just after cooking, it always loses something when it is frozen.

    Capitol Hill is not Queen Anne, which is a more affluent neighborhood. Eat Local would do better here if they dropped their prices a bit.

    But good luck to them! I’ll be dropping by to check it out.

  5. I’m with you, I’m glad to see something else going in besides yet another restaurant. But GNC is hardly a scam- unless by “scam” you mean overpriced. I think they’ll do well, with Gold’s Gym nearby and so many people on CapHill being members of one health club or another. But I don’t think the smoothie/supplement store across from Broadway Mkt has anything to worry about.

  6. This is an option I never would have thought of for this space, but it seems like a good idea. The Joule apartments are fairly expensive and small, so it seems that young professionals with cash and maybe not a lot of time to cook live there. You can’t sustain yourself on thai take out, blue moon, and the pho across the street forever. Personally, even though I cook quite a bit, having some tasty frozen borscht in the fridge for lazy days sounds fantastic.

    Also, I think that first picture is misleading, when I first saw it I thought – $25 for frozen food, damn! Then I clicked through the website and found that most entrees are in the $9-12 range which is a little easier to justify.

  7. I mean a scam in the sense that all evidence suggests that supplements are pretty much unnecessary and likely harmful (for people who eat a semi-reasonable diet).

  8. Umvue, I couldn’t agree more! The vitamin/supplement companies, which together constitute a multi-billion dollar industry, have cleverly convinced the public that their products are absolutely necessary to be healthy. Baloney! Spend your money instead on high-quality food and cook for yourself, instead of relying on pills to give you a false sense of health.

  9. I took a quick peek at the vegetarian options on their site. I see a lot of dependence on cheese and cream sauces. Would be fun treat but not healthy to eat all the time!

  10. Had our first meal from Eat Local and the nut loaf was VERY tasty. For the quality, it is less expensive than dining out! Next up, the three bean chili. Staff was super friendly and helpful.