Seattle's Food Establishment: Inaugural List

Seattle magazine's inaugural list of the 70 most powerful players in the Seattle food scene.
seattle magazine's food establishment list

10. PCC Natural Markets

Est.: Member-owned since 1961. Because: Originally starting as a food-buying club, PCC has been pulling for farmers, providing a source for local and organic foods, and generally leading the green food movement in Seattle for more than 50 years. New projects: A second Green Lake store is coming in 2013; like the Redmond and Edmonds locations, it will be LEED certified. Employees: 900.

9. Mark and Brian Canlis
Co-owners, Canlis

Est.: The restaurant was founded in 1950. Because: Instead of miring themselves in tradition, the brothers bumped Canlis firmly into the lineup of Seattle’s most relevant restaurants after taking the day-to-day reins from parents Chris and Alice, restaurant legends in their own right. Chef Jason Franey, whom they lured west from Manhattan, brilliantly juggles tradition and innovation. The bros won hearts for clever scavenger hunts and giveaways, and for their commitments to community and charity. Canlis’ wine team won its 15th consecutive Wine Spectator Grand Award in 2011. Kudos, too, to their parents, for handing over the keys and supporting their sons’ drive. New projects: The boys broke with tradition to drop their longtime Starbucks brews and install what’s been called one of the best indie coffee services in the country through Chicago-based roaster Intelligentsia. Employees: 80.

8. David Schomer
Founder and president, Vivace Espresso

Est.: 1988, when he opened the Capitol Hill cart. His first shop (now relocated) opened in 1992. Because: The granddaddy of Seattle’s espresso culture, David Schomer’s Vivace has reached beyond cult status; Vivace is iconic. The original roasteria was closed in 2008, but Vivace has since opened two espresso bars, in South Lake Union and on Capitol Hill. New projects: Vivace is now using brix meters to measure the sweetness in its shots of espresso:“Most double espressos in town measure between 4 and 7 units; our Vivace shot came in at 20.6 units in an independent study.” The baristas at Vivace are also using the Foam Knife, a radical new steam tip by Shojiro Saito of Japan that allows Vivace baristas to create a perfect foam texture for cappuccino. Employees: 49.

7. Ethan Stowell
Chef, restaurateur

Est.: 2003. Because: The owner of four restaurants (How to Cook a Wolf, Tavolàta, Anchovies & Olives, and Staple & Fancy Mercantile—and the now-shuttered Union), Stowell is opening a second arm of his company called Grubb Brothers, specializing in more approachable eateries. He’s promised one each for fried chicken, burgers, pizza and fish and chips. New projects: The opening of Ballard Pizza Co., just up the street from Staple & Fancy, will be the first Grubb Brothers concept; opening is slated for this month. Employees: 80.

6. Mike McConnell

Est.: 1995, when Caffe Vita opened. Because: As owner or part owner of Via Tribunali, Big Mario’s, Pike Street Fish Fry, Neumos, Cornuto Pizzeria, Seattle Boxing Studio, Hitchcock Restaurant, The Crocodile, and other restaurants, bars and coffee shops, he's played a major part in transforming neighborhoods (especially the Pike/Pine corridor), and his money finances so many of the businesses that we love. New projects: New Caffe Vita locations in Portland and Manhattan, and a Via Tribunali pizzeria opened in February in Manhattan. Caffe Vita is partnering with Rudy’s Barbershop, opening a coffee shop in Silver Lake, California, this spring. Employees: 500.;

5. Charlie Billow and Ray Bowen
COO AND president, Charlie’s Produce

Est.: 1978. Because: As the largest independently owned produce wholesaler on the West Coast, Charlie’s has a hand in supplying more than 1,000 Seattle-area restaurants, hospitals, universities and other establishments. The company has also dedicated itself to providing more local, farm-fresh produce by creating a farm co-op division. New projects: A truck featuring locally grown produce, which will bring seasonal fruits and vegetables to restaurant clients in the Seattle area. Employees: 1,000+.

4. Pike Place Market

Est.: 1907. Because: It’s the granddaddy of all farmers markets and a signature experience in our city; because it manages to stay iconic without becoming fossilized, as we saw when key tenant—since 1965—Pike Place Fish recently switched to a 100 percent sustainable catch. The Market also completed a major three-year infrastructure upgrade. Voters had approved a $69 million levy to improve earthquake safety, plumbing and other unsexy but much-needed improvements. New projects: Mt. Townsend Creamery, a favorite of cheese lovers around the nation, opened its first retail shop here last year. Watch for other new shops in new spaces created by the remodel. Employees: Around 2,400 in the summer, dropping to 1,500 in the winter.

3. Jim Sinegal and Jeff Brotman
Costco founders

Est.: 1983. Because: The second-largest retailer in the U.S. (and the seventh largest in the world) is based right here in Washington state; the first Costco was Seattle’s Fourth Avenue store. Because of its size and reach—for better or for worse—Costco’s policies have a real effect on the world’s food supplies; in 2011, the company agreed to stop selling 12 species of fish for sustainability reasons. New projects: Costco spent millions to privatize liquor in Washington state; in the coming months, we’ll see how that affects customers and the fledgling distillery industry here. The company’s Asian presence is also expanding, with stores in Korea, Japan and Taiwan opening this year. Employees: 161,300.

2. Howard Schultz
Starbucks CEO

Est.: 1982, when he was hired by Starbucks. Because: Love it or hate it, Starbucks changed the way we see our daily cuppa joe and brought coffee drinks to a wildly larger audience. New projects: Beating its old “Charbucks” nickname by introducing a new line of lighter-roast coffees. Trying out beer and wine in selected stores. Acquiring Evolution Fresh juices, hoping to do for juice what it’s done for the noble bean. Employees: 149,000 globally.

1. Tom Douglas
Chef, restaurateur, author

Established: Opened Dahlia Lounge in 1989. Because: He’s opened six new restaurants (Seatown, Serious Pie Westlake, Serious Biscuit, Cuoco, Brave Horse Tavern, Ting Momo—phew!) in the last two years alone (he already owned six, including Dahlia, Etta’s and Palace Kitchen), and his projects anchored the redevelopment of South Lake Union. Douglas has had an enduring influence on how we eat for nearly 25 years, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. New projects: His fourth book, an as-yet-untitled Dahlia Bakery cookbook, is due in October.
Employees: 700.


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