With another first on Capitol Hill, Starbucks Roastery rolls out Princi, chain’s latest stab at premium chow

Ciao. Arrivederci. Welcome to Capitol Hill, Rocco Princi. Tuesday, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Melrose at the base of Capitol Hill is introducing its first Princi bakery to the world. Because it is Starbucks, the world should get ready for more.

“Rocco Princi is an artisan who, at an early age, discovered a love of bread making and through determination as well as an obsession for finding the perfect ingredients, has created an Italian food experience that I think is unparalleled,” Howard Schultz, now executive chairman at Starbucks said in the announcement of the opening. “His passion for authentic food and respect for Milanese culture come through in everything he does, and I think our customers are going to fall in love with Princi.”

Here’s how Starbucks describes the first location for its partnership with the European chain:

At the newest Princi location in Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, a team of bakers and chefs bring over 125 years of experience to Princi recipes. Much like Rocco’s European locations, the Seattle store is centered around ovens with food across every daypart baked fresh onsite. More than 100 menu items – from flaky cornetti to focaccia sandwiches filled with salame Milano and mozzarella di bufala or crostata fragola – will be available daily, using ingredients imported from Italy, 25 of which are specifically for Princi. The food will be displayed in abundance as a Commessa guides customers through the breadth of offerings.

“Today, I am realizing a dream that I have had since I was a young man, and I am grateful to Howard for his vision to bring Princi to the world,” Rocco says in the press release.

The bakery replaces a local play in the Starbucks palace of premiumization — in February, CHS reported on Tom Douglas and his midscale pizza play Serious Pie’s exit from the big coffee project. Princi now opens after a six-month overhaul of the space inside the expansive roastery. The roastery, the first in what Starbucks is building into a chain of premium locations in metropolitan neighborhoods around the globe, opened in December 2014 in the auto row-era building and immediately created a spectacle of caffeine for ongoing crowds of coffee tourists and more than a few locals.

Starting with its 2,000 square-foot launch on Melrose, Princi will now be “the exclusive food purveyor for Starbucks premium Reserve retail experiences” including the Shanghai Roastery scheduled to open in December. “Starbucks will also help expand the number of standalone Princi locations worldwide, starting in 2018,” the company announced.

There is room for 60 in the new dining area with room for another 20 to stand “at the mixology and cold brew bar.” Starbucks says the creation of the Seattle Princi “supported more than 150 local jobs, including 28 at our kitchen at HQ.”

Princi and the Starbucks Roastery are located at 1124 Pike. Roastery hours are 7 AM to 11 PM daily with some baked goods available all day, breakfast sandwiches until 11 AM, pizza from 11 AM on, lunch from 11 AM to 2 PM, and “cocktails and small plates” served from 4 PM. Specialty desserts start at 2 PM. You can learn more at roastery.starbucks.com.

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