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Airport Travelers Brake for Cheese

October 29, 2020

When Beecher’s Handmade Cheese opened its store at SEA Airport in 2012, owner Kurt Dammeier saw the chance to connect with travelers at the beginning or end of their journey to Seattle.

“We'd been open at Pike Place Market for 10 years and we were already an integral part of Seattle, especially to those outside the area,” he said. “When we moved to the airport, we went from the heart of Seattle to the front door of Seattle.”

Customers were delighted to find that if they couldn't get to the Pike Place Market flagship location while in Seattle, they still experience the iconic artisan cheese at SEA Airport.

“Pike Place and the airport have worked hand in hand to form long-term brand fans of Beecher’s and Seattle,” Dammeier said.

Beecher's Cafe at SEA.

Take a seat

Now fans of Beecher’s Handmade Cheese no longer have to grab their cheese curds and go. Customers can now get indoor or patio seating on the concourse and enjoy a small selection of premixed cocktails, beer, and wine, all on tap, served in compostable cups. Beecher’s Beer and Wine Bar opens November 2 on the C Concourse adjacent to its flagship airport location. 

Take a load off and enjoy a draft microbrew or a craft cocktail with your favorite Beecher’s treat, like a basil and tomato grilled cheese sandwich with a glass of Pinot Grigio or the “World’s Best” Mac & Cheese while sipping a Flagship Bloody Mary, garnished with Mama Lil’s Asparagus, Mama Lil’s green beans and peppers, olive, lemon, and Beecher’s Flagship cheese.

The premixed cocktail creations on Beecher’s bar menu were conjured up by bartenders at Dammeier’s swanky South Lake Union steakhouse, The Butcher’s Table. Travelers can forgo their to-go boxes and enjoy an Irish Coffee or a Fremont Brewing Winter Ale, along with sit down versions of Beecher’s menu items, like Cheese Curd Lasagna, delivered through a corridor from Beecher’s to the bar.

Blood mary and mimosa

Due to the pandemic, the opening of Beecher’s Beer and Wine Bar comes about eight months later than anticipated.

“We were about four weeks from opening when COVID-19 hit, so we’ve sat on hold until now waiting for traffic to build a little. It felt like the time was right,” Dammeier said.

To keep employees and passengers safe, the bar will feature contactless purchasing, plexiglass shields, face coverings, and physically distanced tables. There will be a fair amount of seating out in the concourse with more space.

A cheesy adventure

When Dammeier opened the flagship Beecher’s Handmade Cheese location in Pike Place Market in 2003, he hadn’t ever made cheese.

“When I looked around at Seattle, as a city we were very supportive of artisan brands. There was a big craft brewery scene, and there were great bakers and coffee makers, but there wasn’t anyone making artisanal cheese. I knew Beecher’s would be a brand that people in Seattle would support.”

Today, customers can stop by the shop and watch cheesemakers at work. They can stop by the cheese counter and pick up one of Beecher’s award-winning cheeses, or choose from the variety of American artisanal cheeses, all made west of the Mississippi, including a large selection straight from the Pacific Northwest.

Dammeier said a big part of what has made Beecher’s successful is consistency. With artisanal producers of food, the taste can vary.

“When we make cheese, we make it from milk that is changing every day. It’s based on what cows eat and time of year. The cheese varies in flavor somewhat. The key for us is to keep the quality high — we make the product quality the number one thing we strive for.”

Grilled cheese and tomato cheese soup

A taste of Seattle at SEA

Beecher’s offers a slightly different selection at the airport than at its flagship store. The downtown store focuses mostly on cheese. Airport customers can find more soups, salads, and other grab-and-go options to fuel them through their flight.  

“Pike Place has stayed cool and quaint; we’re a cheesemaker so we sell cheese. At SEA, it’s more about convenience to the travelers,” he said.

The airport store was successful from the start and as more people discovered Beecher’s, business only grew from there.

“When people go to the airport, they are on a mission; they aren’t shopping around. It took a few years for people to realize our store was there. Our location at the beginning of the C gates is convenient no matter what terminal you’re headed to.”

The Port is nearing the end of a long-term dining and retail development program to increase options for travelers and expand access for small and local business.

Dammeier said the addition of local Pacific Northwest businesses like Beecher’s to the airport makes Seattle feel authentic as a place.

“When you come to Seattle, it should feel like Seattle; the more authentic we are the more effectively we are Seattle's front door,” he said.

Download the SEA Airport App to get a directory of restaurants and retailers 

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