On July 9, after 24 years of serving coffee to our community, our beloved neighborhood Starbucks closed. You’d think we wouldn’t care-I mean, how many Starbucks does one city need? But this one was different. This was our Starbucks.
Starbucks and Red Mill Burgers opened in 1994, replacing one of Phinney Ridge’s many antique shops. Together, they have remained a favorite destination. When my now-grown son was two, we’d walk to Red Mill for French fries for him, followed by Starbucks for an iced mocha for me. It’s hard to imagine one without the other.
The Phinney Ridge Starbucks seemed to have the magic combination of ingredients which allowed it to maintain the old-school Seattle coffee house vibe. For one, its location! With mountain views and outdoor seating, it was a perfect resting place after a long weekend walk, and provided that much needed caffeine boost after a day at the zoo. Also, they had no Wi-Fi! Even in 2019 it was not uncommon to see people reading newspapers and talking to each other while sipping their beverages.
Starbucks was important to our community through their partnership with the Phinney Neighborhood Association. Year after year they supported the PNA’s Winter Festival with complimentary coffee, as well as generous financial contributions.
During the weeks before the final closing, customers had a chance to leave a favorite memory on a sticky note stuck to the back wall. One woman wrote, “Came in right before heading to the hospital to give birth to my son. He is now 16!” Lucy wrote, “Coming here every Wednesday with my Dad,” and Dominic wrote, “My daughter took her first steps here!”
There were also sweet notes to the employees who, according to store manager Mattie Hogan, became like family to many regulars. One note said, “Where everybody knows your name…” and another, “I drive out of my way to come to this location ‘cause you are the best way to start the morning- so friendly and cheerful. You’ll be missed!”
Rumors spread quickly about what was to come, the most common one being that Red Mill is expanding. While Red Mill does own the building, they’re not expanding, and remain committed to finding a new tenant who fits the neighborhood.
The staff threw a closing party on June 28, complete with balloons and streamers hanging over a table of complimentary lemon bread and cake pops. Many people stopped in for the last time after a weekly trip to the farmers market. Regulars reminisced as they stood in line to spin a wheel for prizes.
Thank you Starbucks from Jade for “getting my hangover cured,” from a Dad who wrote, “Morning date with my wife after dropping off the kids. So many completed sentences!” And from the girls who had a place for “gossiping, talking about boys, and laughing too loud since 2012.” From all of us here in Phinney Ridge, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us 24 years of coffee and community. We will miss you.