The Organic Coup, the burgeoning organic fast-food chain founded by former Costco employees and bankrolled in part by top Costco execs, aims to open five locations in the metro area.
The Organic Coup, the burgeoning organic fast-food chain founded by former Costco employees and bankrolled in part by top Costco execs, is coming to Seattle.
Erica Welton, co-founder and CEO of the Pleasant Hill, Calif.-based chain, said she hopes to open the first Organic Coup in Seattle next spring, with plans to open a total of five in the area next year.
Exact locations haven’t been set yet but one of them will likely be in downtown Seattle.
Welton, a former food buyer for Costco, founded The Organic Coup with Dennis Hoover, who worked for Costco for 33 years before retiring last year as senior vice president for the Bay Area region.
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The Organic Coup bills itself as the first fast-food restaurant to qualify as Certified Organic under U.S. Department of Agriculture rules, and serves “organic air chilled chicken breast” sandwiches, wraps and bowls as well as tater tots and caramel popcorn drizzled wtih chocolate.
Welton and Hoover opened their first restaurant last November and currently have three Organic Coup locations open, all in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The chain is expanding quickly: Five to seven more locations are slated to open in Northern California by the end of this year.
Next year, in addition to the five locations in Seattle, there are plans for five in Los Angeles, and two to three in Portland, Welton said.
“We’re very excited,” said Welton, who’s planning a trip to Seattle next month to look at potential sites. “Seattle has such a large organic consumer base. People in the Pacific Northwest love organic food.”
The Costco connection runs throughout the business.
Costco co-founder and former CEO Jim Sinegal was the primary investor in The Organic Coup’s $7 million first round of financing.
“You would have to be living on Mars to not understand that sustainability and the organic move is something that is very significant,” Sinegal said in a recent interview with the “Gary Allen on Business” radio show on Bay Area station KNBR. “This is not a flash in the pan.
“And I know Dennis and Erica well enough to know they have the disciplines to make this thing work,” Sinegal said.
Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti has also invested in the restaurant chain, saying in an earlier interview that “organic is something that’s top of mind and continues to grow. Cominbing it with fast food seemed novel and compelling.”
Welton said The Organic Coup also practices the Costco philosophy of paying its workers well and promoting from within. Entry level workers at The Organic Coup’s San Francisco location, for instance, are paid $16 an hour, while those in other Bay Area cities make $14. Store managers have been promoted from within.