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The Renovated Specialty's at 5th & Union Reopened Today with the Company's Test Kitchen

The new design is by Robert Cipollone, who did Lark.

The renovated Specialty's Cafe and Bakery at 5th and Union.
The renovated Specialty's Cafe and Bakery at 5th and Union.
Courtesy of Specialty's Cafe and Bakery

Rejoice, Specialty's Cafe and Bakery fans: after closing for three months for renovations, the 5th and Union store (1400 5th Ave) reopened today at 6 a.m. with a bigger space, a new look, and lots more culinary offerings.

Double its previous size and now the largest store in the company, the 7,000-square-foot, 120-seat cafe has a new design by Robert Cipollone, who is responsible for Quinn's and the lovely, award-winning new Lark. In this refreshed Specialty's, Cipollone says to expect more comfortable seating along with tables fit for meetings. The style includes a lot of natural materials—reclaimed and recycled wood, concrete columns— that keep the space "authentic," so "the dining experience is in continuity with the baking experience."

Specialty's has built a brand on delivering "honest" baked goods, sandwiches, soups, and salads, says Eli Winkler, Specialty's Chief Marketing Officer: "Everything is made fresh by hand every day and throughout the day." Adding significantly to the store's offerings, the 5th and Union store is also now home to the company's test kitchen, so it regularly sells nearly 20 off-menu items (sweet and savory pastries, sandwiches, salads) that the other branches don't. Specialty's started in San Francisco in 1987 and opened its first store in Seattle in 2006—this same 5th and Union location, actually. The company now has 57 stores across California, Illinois, and Washington, and nine in the Seattle area. Why put the test kitchen (which is visible from the sidewalk) here, rather than in California where most of the company's operations are?

"When we looked around the country, Seattle is at the forefront of culinary innovation. It's a great place get inspiration from," Winkler says.

The 5th and Union Specialty's is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week. Check out the menu here.

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