Seattle’s Best Opens its First Drive-through Store in Northlake
Senior Vice President Jim McDermet told Chicago Tribune that after losing about 450 stores when Borders bookstores closed, Seattle’s Best Coffee paused to find out “what was the market opportunity not being met”. Eight months of research revealed that about half of the U.S. population over 18 years is comprised of workers, the young and families who eat breakfast in their cars. In a move to capture this market, Seattle’s Best opened its first drive-through store in Northlake. It is particularly targeting the fastest-growing population of Hispanics and has overhauled its menu to address the Hispanic taste buds. Seattle’s Best’s competitors in this retooling are fast-food chains, Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s.
Seattle’s Best Coffee, which lost about 450 of its cafes when Borders bookstores closed, is overhauling its image in pursuit of a different customer.
Its first store in the new style, a drive-through on North Avenue adjacent to a Wal-Mart, features glass outer walls and a gray interior with a large menu board, nearly split between food and drinks.
After the Borders bankruptcy, Senior Vice President Jim McDermet said the chain “saw a real opportunity to pause, take a look at the broader market,” and see “what was the market opportunity not being met.”
The chain was looking for an idea that could be rolled out to thousands of stores nationwide and catapult the brand past $1 billion in annual sales.
After eight months of research, the 42-year-old brand has tightened its focus, courting workers and young, on-the-go families who spend mornings in the car, buying coffee beverages at fast-food chains or gas stations. Chris Bruzzo, chief marketing officer for Seattle’s Best, said that about half of the U.S. population over age 18 fits into this category.
But Seattle’s Best is particularly keen on building its Hispanic customer base. Bruzzo said Hispanics are the fastest-growing population within the company’s new consumer target, and Northlake was chosen with Hispanics in mind. The store has three employees who speak Spanish fluently, and two who speak Polish.
To overhaul its menu, the company spent time with Chicago-area Hispanics, Bruzzo said. The result is a number of sweet beverage options including a caramel candy latte, a birthday cake latte, and caramel, hazelnut or vanilla flavored creams.
He said the group also asked for a variety of food options for breakfast, lunch and snacks, with healthy and indulgent options. The result is a line of egg sandwiches on English muffins or biscuits; cookies; sausage-and-egg biscuit bites; pretzel sandwich rolls; mini fruit pies and multigrain fruit bars.
The new menu is being offered only at the Northlake store, but the company said it could be rolled out to existing locations quickly. …
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