Update: Crash at 35th/Avalon Starbucks drive-through

(WSB camera-phone photo by Christopher Boffoli, added 11:37 pm)
ORIGINAL 11:20 REPORT OF 35TH/AVALON “HEAVY RESCUE RESPONSE”: WSB photojournalist Christopher Boffoli is on his way to the scene. Scanner indicates it’s a crash at the Starbucks drive-through – and one radio transmission indicated “substantial damage.” 11:32 PM UPDATE: Christopher says three vehicles are involved and at least two people will be taken to the hospital. He adds, “SUV took out one of the columns at the drive-through.” 12:01 AM UPDATE: More info and another photo from Christopher. Police at the scene say alcohol may have factored into the crash. He adds: “The SUV took out one of the two columns holding up the roof that hangs over the Starbucks drive through. The column looked hollow so I’m not sure how much weight they are meant to bear. The roof is holding on the remaining column. SFD is there now shoring up temporarily with lumber.” In this photo, you see the column – and the spot where it was torn from the building:

As for traffic, one lane is blocked but it’s not causing much trouble. A different look at where the SUV tore the column away:

Christopher says there was no damage to the building besides that column area. Police were evaluating the light pole the SUV hit:

As for the store’s status, we’ll check on its status in the early morning. Police had called a manager who was reported to be en route. ADDED 2:43 AM: Video from Christopher – in it, you see the other vehicle that was hit – the third vehicle originally reported “involved,” as its driver notes in comments, was not actually part of the collision.

8:41 AM UPDATE: Went over to check on the morning-after situation. The drive-thru is closed, with repair work under way (and yellow tape across the lane entrance, leading to some U-turns in the lot); the walk-up is open.

1:12 PM NOTE: Christopher, who covered the crash early today, went by a little while ago and says the drive-thru appears to be open again.

49 Replies to "Update: Crash at 35th/Avalon Starbucks drive-through"

  • Ryan B. January 14, 2010 (11:40 pm)

    Coming back from wrapping a workout @ Allstar. Was the “third car,” but not actually hit. A good lesson why it’s never a good idea to drink and drive – even if Thursday is the new Friday. Scary scene, but surprisingly, could have been worse.

  • celeste17 January 14, 2010 (11:46 pm)

    Ryan, thank goodness you are okay. I drove by a few minutes ago and they were just leaving with someone in an ambulance. I think there are going to be some unhappy Starbuck’s people tomorrow. A lot of people are going to have to get out of their cars.

  • Mookie January 15, 2010 (12:44 am)

    Glad you’re ok, Ryan; what a freakish/scary thing to witness up close! For the SUV driver looks like that “getting coffee to sober up” idea went horribly awry…

  • pigeonmom January 15, 2010 (12:54 am)

    If this was due to a medical problem, ok.
    If it is alcohol and or speed related..
    WTF? JFC. I don’t care if they hurt themselves at all, it’s their choice to take risks and pay the price but when it endangers others, I HAVE HAD IT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • luckylou January 15, 2010 (1:53 am)

    I was waiting in a long line at the walkup window once and decided to take a picture of the building for a Loopt update when I was yelled at by the manager – “You can’t take pictures!” “Huh?” “You can’t take pictures!”

    It was funny. I can stand on a public sidewalk and take a picture of anything I like, thank you. I wonder if that manager is mad at these pics.

  • christopherboffoli January 15, 2010 (2:20 am)

    luckylou: I’m not sure how long ago that was but Starbucks has clarified their photo policy in the last year. I know the issue came up when they opened those “stealth” locations up on Capitol Hill that were designed to not look so obviously like Starbucks. People were snapping a lot of photos. I’m fairly sure they made it clear that customers taking pictures was OK. But in any case, as long as you are on the public sidewalk you’re correct. Snap away.

  • valvashon January 15, 2010 (2:28 am)

    If you have to get out of your car this morning anyway to get your coffee drink, may I suggest trying out Diva Espresso, which is just around the corner? They’re oh so nice, oh so local and had oh so nothing to do with the disappearance of the Seattle Supersonics.

  • samson January 15, 2010 (6:11 am)

    I could not believe what happened: Drinking and Driving dont mix!!! Drivers dont think twice before they touch the keys to ignite the engine. what a dumb!!! I am feeling bad for these Starbucks partners. Starbucks partners will be sad when they receive a call from manager. :(

    Boffoli: its okay to snap any Starbucks pictures but for this incident: its not good idea to do snap this one. its Freedom. :(

    Ryan: I am glad that you are okay whew! its not for 3 to 5 seconds early, it will be different.

    People are driving crazy during the rainy weather. its wrong idea to drive too fast and drink too much… Tsk Tsk!! I have noticed drivers in West Seattle are starting to be mean and show ego to take the road over. BE NICE!

    dont you know how to be nice!! BE NICE and SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR this West Seattle Neighborhood.

  • rnl January 15, 2010 (7:31 am)

    Next time you want to sober up, coffee is great – Please don’t try for the drive thru at 40 mph though – Just a thought –

  • coffee January 15, 2010 (7:35 am)

    how about trying one of the many locally owned coffee shops in west seattle for a change….
    Unfortunately until bartenders really start paying attention to how much they serve a person, this will keep happening. It would be interesting to know where this person was if it is truely a case of DUI. Doesn’t the law here allow for the bar/bartender to be charged if they overserve a customer and then there is a problem later?

  • spike January 15, 2010 (8:15 am)

    Was the Starbucks open?

    • WSB January 15, 2010 (8:39 am)

      We just went over – phone number for the place is hard to find. Drive-thru closed. Walk-up open. Vigorous repair work on drive-thru so I would guess it won’t be long (but we’ll check throughout the day) – TR

  • sacatosh January 15, 2010 (8:26 am)

    to the last commenter: Starbucks IS locally-owned. And it employs well over 10,000 of your neightbors in Seattle alone. So, by all means, shop local.

  • Burton January 15, 2010 (8:29 am)

    I’m with Sacotosh. I like Sbucks.

  • austin January 15, 2010 (8:35 am)

    Crazy drivers at it again. There should be a law..

  • drivethrusbux January 15, 2010 (8:45 am)

    Hope everyone is ok.

    Perfect composition on the third photo, with the sign saying “Thank You” to this high-speed drive through drunkard.

  • mark January 15, 2010 (8:57 am)

    Starbucks is NOT locally owned. They are locally headquartered and do employ lots of people with high paying jobs at HQ. Like every other publicly traded company, the owners live all over the globe.

  • Jen January 15, 2010 (9:00 am)

    Yea I’m pretty sure that drive through was closed by the time this happened. So really, where was this guy going?!

  • Kryptonite January 15, 2010 (9:03 am)

    Mark: Thanks for the attempt at clarifying re: where SBX is located. But now your own clarification needs an amendment. They employ a lot of other people in our area that are not located at the HQ (think all the stores in our region). Plus, not everyone who works at the SSC has a “high paying job” — or, at least one of them doesn’t (me).

  • mark January 15, 2010 (9:07 am)


    I know they don’t all have high paying jobs, but its a fact that the profits they make are spread all over the globe while the profits from our locally owned stores are far more likely to be spent right here, in our community. True, they employ lots of people, but so does Wal Mart.

  • JunctionMonkey January 15, 2010 (9:16 am)


    Based on the trajectory as can be construed from the photos, this person appears to have taken the turn off Fauntleroy onto Avalon too fast and continued across Avalon and into Starbuck.

  • DBurns January 15, 2010 (9:16 am)

    “Coffee” – I believe that there is an expectation of follow up by the police when there is any arrest incident involving alcohol – they are supposed to keep track of where people are being served/overserved when involved.

  • Brandon January 15, 2010 (9:50 am)

    Well Mark, based on that, any public held company is NOT locally owned, only private ones. So your saying Shop Private if you want to Shop Local? No REI. No MSFT. No WAMU (even if it is gone for good). Don’t fly BA. Or shop AMZN. Or F5. Not going to buy that one. You tend to box yourself out.

  • mark January 15, 2010 (9:59 am)


    It doesn’t work for everything. But, when I shop at Metropolitan Market (WSB Sponsor) as opposed to Safeway then I stand a pretty good chance that the end result (profits) are re-invested in our community. Do I always shop at locally owned companies? No, I don’t, but I try too when possible. Amazon , for example, is a great place to shop, but if you are buying a book and the price is competitive, you would better serve the community if you bought it from a locally owned book store. You can tit-for-tat tons of examples, and in many cases (MSFT) we don’t really have another option, but when we do have the option (coffee stores might be the easiest) thats where I go.

  • chris January 15, 2010 (10:14 am)

    Coffee, how do you know that the driver was at a bar? He /she could have been at home drinking. How about a little personal responsibility?

  • Brandon January 15, 2010 (10:19 am)

    And don’t believe all local shops are “local” owners too. Just because they have a door in the community, doesn’t mean the $$$ stays here. Its only if the local business believes in the same values. Ever look at the contrtibutions those big boxes make to their local communities? Can the small business make the same claim? If walking into the local shop makes you feel good, great. But I don’t always believe the investment makes a full circle. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it don’t. I don’t buy the blanket arguement that “you would better serve the community if you bought it from a locally owned book store”. Many big companies can and do spend donations responsilby, but don’t get credit for it.

  • Morgan Junction Mom January 15, 2010 (10:28 am)

    This would be a great opportunity to fix the enter/exit for that Starbucks. Major clusterF in my opinion. It’s entertaining while sitting at that light in the morning to watch people try to get in/out when it’s backed up and people are trying to go left out of the lot. Person who planned that must have also planned the Jefferson Square parking lot.

  • mark January 15, 2010 (10:42 am)


    Yep, you can nit pic all you want, you might be right in some cases. If the crowds at Starbucks are any indication, most people are like you and don’t care.

  • WSratsinacage January 15, 2010 (10:52 am)

    Team Starbucks

  • westside January 15, 2010 (11:20 am)

    Driving and texting is just as bad as drinking and driving – of course we are all speculating as only a few people know what really happened. Will wait to hear about the toxicology but don’t forget texting. Starbucks needs to chill. We can all drive by and see what happened. Get over it.

  • coffee January 15, 2010 (11:23 am)

    Ok, I don’t know if the person was at a bar, but if they were, then the bar should be investigated.
    And when I was saying local owned, there are several small coffee shops open for business here in West Seattle that are owner operated, or have 1 or 2 employees. We all pretty much know which places these are. I can list them if you don’t know who and where they are.

  • Java Joe January 15, 2010 (11:24 am)

    I will say this for Starbucks, and I believe it’s one of the keys to their success. They do train their people fairly well, and make sure the staff is pleasant and courteous. Every time I’ve been to SBs, the baristas are well=groomed and pleasant. Contrast this to Uptown Espresso. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky, but each time at the two different locations I’ve been to, I’ve had to put up with staff that was affecting a ‘too-hip-for-you’ attitude, and too busy being ironic to offer decent service. Maybe they would’ve been different if I was a ‘hot’, tatted and pierced 20-something, but as a chunky, middle-aged old fart, I guess I just wasn’t part of their desired demographic. That’s not to say we don’t have good quality indie shops that are every bit as good (or better) than SB. C&P Coffee and Freshy’s come to mind. The main thing is that it’s important to consistently offer good products and friendly, competent service. It’s the consistency that makes the difference, and I think this is one reason that SBs succeeds just like McD’s does. No matter where you are, you know what you’re going to get, and while it may not be exceptional, it’s consistently good.

  • rodney nulu January 15, 2010 (11:48 am)

    Hey, why can’t we all just get along?
    Under a certain level of scrutiny, it all becomes pissin in the wind.
    Sure, I avoid Starbucks, while in Seattle at least, because I know it is not my favorite coffee.
    But Starbucks has had significant local presence.
    But for Starbucks, we would probably not be such a coffee culture city. Those independents owe their being to the big S. Starbucks arguably provided the sophisticated coffee consumers and baristas required for the independents.
    Starbucks brought and brings employment to many in Seattle.
    And has made more than a handful of Seattleites rich.
    I don’t know what percent of Starbucks stock is locally owned, but it is likely significant.
    I imagine that even for the most independent of the independent coffee shops, it is hard not to end up “paying the man” one way or other.
    Like, where did they get their business financing or who do they pay their rent to?

  • austin January 15, 2010 (11:51 am)

    Starbucks did not spawn Seattle’s coffee culture, it was the other way around.

  • rob January 15, 2010 (12:10 pm)

    its odd to me that paying 10,000 or so people’s wages/salaries and providing health benefits to a huge number of people who wouldn’t have them if they were working a similar paying job elsewhere isn’t considered “reinvesting in the community”.

  • mark January 15, 2010 (12:39 pm)


    You are correct. Starbucks, Wal Mart, Home Depot all contribute to the communities they are in. They all make a ton of money and do many great things with their money. The actual percentage is very very small, but they do give back. I still prefer local. Locally owned if possible and if the best choice is locally operated (Costco, REI, Starbucks) as the best alternative then that’s where I go. That’s just me and as I mentioned, I am in the minority.

  • pigeonmom January 15, 2010 (1:08 pm)

    Now this story has turned into a Starbucks debate?

  • eigenwijs January 15, 2010 (1:12 pm)

    This was a news item on a car accident, right? Just checking…

    This is a local business (i.e. operating in West Seattle) that is frequented by a lot of our neighbors very regularly and is being impacted by the stupid actions of an alleged drunk driver. Despite how you may feel about Starbucks, it’s the driver that is at fault here, not the building that was just standing there minding it’s own “business”.

    And thank goodness it was at 11 PM and not 11 AM!

  • Ryan B. January 15, 2010 (3:42 pm)

    I’ll chime in again and say that this was a very frightening crash that I witnessed and was only a few feet from being a victim as well. What’s more important than a column at a Starbucks’ drive thru being damaged is the hit the guy in the truck behind me took. It was really violent and i can only guess that the driver (admiting-ly drunk) who caused this big mess was going 35+ from the turn on Fauntleroy to Avalon. The driver showed no remorse for what he had caused and as I first mentioned, the scene could have been a lot worse.

    As far as responsibility goes, it really is about the person who caused the accident. I’m so tired of people wanting to blame others (in this case, a supposed bartender) for actions caused by another. It’s incredibly weak and does not do anyone any favors in the long-run. I’ve screwed up plenty of times and take responsibility for the impact caused by my mistakes. We are all human, even the dumb-ass who is lucky he didn’t kill anyone last night, including himself.

    Hopefully, we can all pull something positive out of this experience and quit debating whether Starbucks’ is even or not. They are simply a business and consumers have the choice to do business with them or not. It seems debating about something else would be more productive to the end game.

  • WS Steve January 15, 2010 (5:09 pm)

    I don’t avoid Starbucks because of its omnipresence, or (just) because I like other places’ coffee better (Diva, Ladro, Uptown, Revolution) but due to the childish behavior of Howard Schultz while owner of the Sonics. If he steps down…I’ll be back.

    But due to the worse-than-childish behavior of this idiot driver…I guess I’ll have to stop by this particular Starbucks and get a cup of Joe and a muffin. This totally sucks for them.

  • B! January 15, 2010 (6:35 pm)

    As someone who was on scene, I can give you all a few bits of info.

    The driver was drunk (slurred speech and out of it). Mind you buzzed driving IS drunk driving. He claimed to be uninjured. Given the severity of the collision he was sent to hospital anyway for further evaluation.
    The driver of the other vehicle was also taken to hospital.
    Ryan, I’m glad you are well.

    Please everyone, drive sober. Call a taxi or a friend if you need a ride.

    Driving is your #1 job whilst driving. Please keep your cellphones in your pocket or purse; save the talking and texting for later when you can fully devote your attention to it (talking/ texting/ eating/ whatever).

    75% of accidents are caused by some focus other than driving: holding the cellphone and talking, texting, eating, applying make-up, etc.
    Drive safely and courteously.

  • weheartwestseattle January 15, 2010 (9:15 pm)

    Hello All: Greetings from the girlfriend of the man in the red pathfinder that was crashed into by the drunk driver last night. We spent all night and morning in the emergency room at Harborview cursing the actions of the extremely irresponsible driver of the Jeep. My boyfriend Josh is in pretty bad back and neck pain today. It was a very scary accident and we hope it will shake up the West Seattle community a bit. Everyone has their night of overindulging…..but please call a cab so your actions don’t cause other people pain. Our car is totaled and Josh’s work as a carpenter will be put on hold for quite some time. Ryan – we are thankful for your eyewitness account and are glad you were not injured in the crash. I imagine as the legal issues unfold we will be in contact with you. Thanks to Christopher for posting the photos and video. Cheers to safer streets….g & j


  • velo_nut January 15, 2010 (9:25 pm)

    People who drive drunk should be shot on spot. There is no excuse to do it. None at all.

  • Brandon January 15, 2010 (11:16 pm)

    Hmm, shot on sight? And we wonder where the violence starts and ends in our society.
    On a more sober and thoughtful solution, consider the Anna Armstrong White Foundation, or Anna’s Ride Home. Its a free cab ride voucher at participating establishments and events in the Seattle area. Maybe you can donate to their program too and save a life.


  • yummy January 16, 2010 (10:31 am)

    I love me some Starbucks.

    Drunk drivers suck

    Peace out

  • frog baseball January 16, 2010 (12:16 pm)

    velo_nut is right. anyone caught drunk driving should be charged with attempted murder. i can’t wrap my brain around the fact that there are people with MULTIPLE dui’s on their records and they still have a license.

  • Cheryl January 16, 2010 (12:31 pm)

    Wow. Drunk much? (*shaking head*)

  • cjboffoli January 16, 2010 (2:50 pm)

    I meant to post this earlier: additional images from this incident:

  • karma January 26, 2010 (11:29 pm)

    This was a serious accident and all this talk is about whether Starbucks is the big, bad company or the saving grace of Seattle. Just stop it already. The passengers of both cars are having serious problems right now. So, instead of debating on how bad/good Starbucks is, how about sending out good wishes/prayers to the people involved in the accident.

Sorry, comment time is over.