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.
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.