Starbucks opens second Evolution Fresh location

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Just four months after the first unit debuted, the second location of Starbucks’ Evolution Fresh juice concept opened Friday in downtown Seattle.

Arthur Rubinfeld, Starbucks’ president, Global Development and Evolution Fresh Retail, said two more are scheduled to open this year: another “urban” location in Seattle and one in San Francisco.

Starbucks acquired the Evolution Fresh juice brand for $30 million in November 2011 with plans to tap into the estimated $1.6 billion premium juice market and the larger $50 million health-and-wellness category.

The company's goal was to build a global, multichannel brand that includes a ready-to-drink bottled juice line that's sold in Starbucks coffeehouse locations as well as grocery and retail stores. In addition, the company said it would develop Evolution Fresh as a chain of juice bars.

The first Evolution Fresh opened in March in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Wash., and features both ready-to-drink and fresh-blended juices and smoothies. A full menu of wraps, salads, soups and both vegetarian and vegan offerings are also available.

Rubinfeld, who designed the original store and is orchestrating its growth, said the response has been very positive from consumers — as well as landlords, who have shown growing interest in the brand.

Starbucks is not ready to share sales indicators for Evolution Fresh, he said. The Seattle-based coffeehouse giant is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings results next week.

The downtown Seattle location of Evolution Fresh, located at 517 Pine St., will be almost half the size of the first, at about 600 square feet, compared with 1,100 square feet in Bellevue.

The new unit is designed for “on-the-go customers,” with more grab-and-go options and no seating, said Rubinfeld. The unit will also offer free delivery within the local area.

Like the original, the new unit will feature a “juice tap wall,” where guests can order handcrafted smoothies or blended juice drinks. Many of the same food items will be available with the option of being heated, he said.

One of the most popular offerings is the Southwest Scramble, with eggs, quinoa, black beans, roasted red peppers, spinach, feta and mild chile sauce. Also popular are cold items, like collard-green wrap sandwiches, which is Mediterranean tuna with capers, kalamata olives, bulgur and roasted red peppers wrapped in collard green leaves.

Rubinfeld said healthful eating has proven to be “more than a trend. It’s clearly a way of life.”

Evolution Fresh offers a One-Day Evolution Ritual, which includes a pack of bottled juices to serve as meal replacements throughout the day or for short term “juicing,” a juice-only fast that some believe can help with weight loss or cleansing of toxins from the body.

“The juice trend on the West Coast is rising, and in Seattle particularly,” he said.

Consumers at the original Evolution Fresh have been surprisingly adventurous with their juice selections, according to Rubinfeld. Some of the most popular are “green” juices, like the Field of Greens, featuring greens, ginger, apple and cucumber, which, he said, “is not totally sweet.”

Rubinfeld said the Evolution Fresh concept has potential to become the first national “healthful convenience” chain, but the company still has much to learn from consumers and how the brand will play in other markets.

Meanwhile, Starbucks is continuing to grow points of distribution for Evolution Fresh bottled juices, which are now available in Starbucks locations in the Pacific Northwest and Southern California, as well as in some West Coast grocery stores, such as Kroger, Safeway, Vons and Whole Foods.

Starbucks earlier this year announced an agreement to acquire the La Boulange bakery café chain, and Rubinfeld said Evolution Fresh bottled juices will likely be sold at those locations as well.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout