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A Little Taste of Seattle in Brooklyn

By Janet Upadhye | June 20, 2012 4:54pm
Onwer Eddie Shamah with his two grandsons.
Onwer Eddie Shamah with his two grandsons.
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Janet Upadhye/DNAinfo

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Thursday morning Seattle’s Best Coffee officially opens its first Brooklyn store at 253 Livingston St. in Downtown Brooklyn.

But on Wednesday, they offered free small coffee drinks and samples until 2 p.m. and with temperatures in the 90’s, locals came out in droves to enjoy iced coffee shakes.

“There were nearly 2,000 people in line for coffee this morning,” said Jenny McCabe, Director of Communications for Seattle’s Best Coffee. “It was great training for the new baristas.”

There are 25 new employees to be exact and the majority are from Brooklyn.

Owner Eddie Shamah who is a Brooklyn native himself, said they had over 350 applicants vying for the positions.

“It was highly competitive,” he said. “We ultimately chose people who felt like family.”

Family is important to Shamah who wants to run his franchise business as if it was a family shop. On Wednesday he had old friends, family members, and even two small grandchildren come by to enjoy the store.

He also developed a family-like relationship with the Seattle-based company while spending two and a half weeks training in Seattle. Shamah is the first franchise owner so far to make the trip.

From Flatbush, Shamah got his first start in business with an import business he opened in 1971 with his family. After 35 years and huge successes, he was ready for a break. He then spent six years on a boat, relaxing and sailing around.

“But I got bored,” he said. “I wanted to come back to work.”

Back in Brooklyn he set his sights on 253 Livingston St., a building that one of his good friends owns. Long Island University students occupy the tops floors and the floor above his is a gym. Before Shamah moved in, the space was a Dunkin’ Donuts.

And although Shamah isn’t much of a coffee drinker himself he felt confident about the coffee business. “There really isn’t a place that sells good coffee in the neighborhood,” he said. “I saw a need and I am trying to meet it.”

Locals seemed to agree. “The coffee is very robust,” said Robert Ramsay, 54. “The only other places to get coffee around her is Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald's so I’m glad Seattle’s Best Coffee showed up.”

Seattle’s Best Coffee not only has coffee drinks but also serves breakfast and lunch sandwiches, cookies, brownies and more. And visitors will find Shamah behind the counter most days.

“I am very hands on,” he said. “Plus, I know people in the neighborhood and they know me.”