Seattle originals Starbucks and Red Robin expand across the culinary world

Red Robin
Red Robin started its presence in 1969

We don’t normally talk about national restaurant chains when we travel, but since Seattle is the launching pad for a couple of our favorite places, I figured why not?

Red Robin Gourmet Burgers may not be headquartered in Seattle any more, but the city is its birthplace. The restaurant chain started in 1969, across the lake from the University of Washington. The original owner called it Sam’s Red Robin. Once sold in 1969, Sam’s name was dropped. Thus, Red Robin was born.

Red Robin
Mural of the original Red Robin location

The original location remained a Red Robin until about six years ago, when costs to maintain it were too much.

Red Robin is now headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado. It has about 500 franchises.

We celebrate birthdays at Red Robin, since members of it loyalty card program receive a free burger on their birthday.

Red Robin
Red Robin is a family favorite

I checked out the Red Robin on the Seattle Waterfront during my visit. I normally go with a Banzai burger (I love the grilled pineapple slice). But, I went with a Royal Red Robin, as I was in the mood for an egg on my burger. It was great.

Red Robin
Royal Red Robin is delicious

The second international chain that grew from a small bay near Pike Place Market? You may know it as Starbucks. The original location – aka Ground Zero – opened in 1971. Today, more than 23,000 locations are scattered around the world. I loved having a venti Skinny Vanilla Latte and breakfast sandwich every work day when I spent four weeks in Manila five years ago. Now, I usually get one at our local Super Target store when I walk around.

Latte at the first Starbucks

The original Starbucks location differs from every other one because the mermaid in the window doesn’t have her chest covered.

Uncensored mermaid

It also is a takeout location. You place your order and step back to wait. You can browse the souvenirs that are located against the back wall or pick up some coffee beans.


I grabbed my latte and went next door to a bakery for a Russian pastry dish. I enjoyed my breakfast near the Pike Place Market, while taking in the beauty of the Puget Sound.

Breakfast in Seattle

I know we tend to look for local eateries when we travel, but I had to check out these two “locals.” It never hurts to check out national chains in their hometown.

For more information on both businesses, checkout and