An exclusive look inside D.C.’s first Peet’s store

For its Washington debut, Peet’s Coffee & Tea executives say they’re looking for a fast way to introduce Washingtonians to the 48-year-old company.

Nearly two dozen former Caribou Coffee locations have been stripped down and re-outfitted into Peet’s stores.

“We’re starting from scratch,” said Dave Burwick, the company’s president and chief executive. “Peet’s is a very different company [from Caribou]. Aside from maybe the bathroom, there’s really nothing that we’re keeping.”

Some things to look for in the company’s new flagship store:

Walnut floors: The Peet’s at 1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW will be the company’s second store to have walnut floors made using trees from California’s Central Valley. (The first was in the company’s flagship San Francisco store.)

“It’s sophisticated and different; it just felt right for Washington,” said Michael Williams, vice president of store development for Peet’s.

Bowling-lane-turned-table: A communal table in the middle of the store is made from a repurposed bowling alley lane. “We were trying to think of something that brings people together and, well, people love to go bowling,” Williams said.

Barista station: On special display in each of the company’s stores is the barista. At D.C.’s flagship store, a special lighting fixture above the barista station helps draw attention.

“We want the barista to be the first thing you see when you look inside,” Williams said.

4. Local snapshots: Peet’s has been encouraging Washington area aficionados to share their photos via Instagram, the photo app. Those images were then collected and arranged into two large collages that have been framed and are on display at the company’s new store.

Customized music: Like many coffee shops, Peet’s relied on a repertoire of classical music for years.

“Then one day we took a step back and said, ‘What can we do to make this more interesting,’” said Debora Kristofferson, vice president of brand and creative strategy.

The company last month partnered with Pandora Internet Radio to create four customized stations that stream jazz and indie music alongside classical tunes.

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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