The Reason Starbucks' Original Pike Place Location Doesn't Serve Food

For most people, Starbucks is the go-to spot for their morning caffeine fix. And Starbucks certainly dominates the coffee segment, according to The Commons. However, since 2003, Starbucks has also been selling food. According to Statista, Starbucks generated $5.8 billion in revenues from food in 2022 compared to $19.56 billion from drinks.

Starbucks' initial food offerings included a limited range of items for breakfast, like breakfast sandwiches. Since then, the breakfast offerings at Starbucks have expanded to include pastries and hot breakfast items like wraps, sandwiches, and sous vide egg bites, per their website. In 2017, Starbucks also made a concerted effort to grab a larger share of the lunch market, reports USA Today. That same year, Starbucks launched their Mercato lunch menu of items "made fresh...using high-quality, flavorful ingredients" in Chicago (via the Starbucks website), which then expanded nationwide. Today, you can still find food offerings for lunch like a crispy grilled cheese and other sandwiches, along with breakfast, bakery, snack, and sweets items. However, there is one location where you won't find any food at all, and that's the location where it all started: in the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Plenty of history, but no food

According to the Starbucks website, Starbucks began in a small storefront in 1971 at the Pike Place Market. That store didn't even serve drinks to begin with, and it wasn't until 1987 that they started serving coffee and espresso drinks; before that, they only sold coffee, tea, and spices in bulk, with only the occasional sample from the coffee press. What they never ended up selling at that store was food, and that's because the original lease to the Pike Place Market store specifically prohibited the sale of food, and it's a tradition that's carried over to the present day.

According to store supervisor Tony Reyes, customers come to the store "to experience a piece of history." If they want some food to go along with that history and coffee, they can walk just a few blocks away from the Pike Place Market store and find four different Starbucks stores. They can also find plenty of food options within Pike Place Market itself as well—according to the Pike Place Market website, there are 40 different options for lunch within the market.