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Wednesday, September 4, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Food concept fails to fill another Cafe Starbucks

Seattle Times business reporter

Starbucks has closed its full-service restaurant in Madison Park, reflecting the company's ongoing struggles with its food offerings.

The restaurant opened in the Seattle neighborhood four years ago as the first Cafe Starbucks, a test concept the company expanded to West Seattle, Bellevue and Pacific Place in downtown Seattle. The West Seattle store closed in February 2000.

The Madison Park restaurant closed last week, but the coffeehouse will stay open, spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff said. The restaurant area will be remodeled to add room for more merchandise and a community meeting space.

"We've made a decision to focus on what we do best, which is the retail-coffeehouse experience," Lincoff said.

The company opened the Madison Park restaurant in the fall of 1998 in a bid to attract more sales in the late afternoon and evening. Customers could order focaccia sandwiches, pasta and coffee liqueurs from servers. But the concept never took off.

While Starbucks has seen overall sales grow by more than 20 percent in recent years, Chairman Howard Schultz has said food remains one of its "Achilles heels."

Starbucks has no immediate plans to close the two remaining restaurants, Lincoff said, but the concept remains under review.

Jake Batsell: 206-464-2718 or jbatsell@seattletimes.com.

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