Entertainment

AT&T merges high-tech retail, coffee and hangout space in Seattle for its first ‘Lounge’ concept

AT&T is tapping into Seattle’s historic coffee tradition and its booming tech scene to create a first-of-its-kind expertise for the worldwide telecommunications firm. On Capitol Hill, a neighborhood lengthy identified for its bars, cafes and hangout areas, AT&T has discovered a house for “The Lounge,” combining high-tech retail, high-tech coffee and extra.

In a 3,000-square-foot space that appears nothing like what you’d stroll into on the native mall, AT&T is opening what it calls a “second front room” for residents of the neighborhood — whether or not they use AT&T as a wi-fi supplier or not. The Lounge sits beneath six tales of latest residences in a constructing on the nook of East Thomas Road and Harvard Avenue East.

It’s half of a bigger pattern of service suppliers and tech corporations creating coffee retailers and lounges the place clients can hang around, aiming to create stronger relationships that generate extra enterprise for the corporate over time. Different examples embody Capital One Cafés, Columbia Financial institution NeighborHubs, and Amazon Web Services Lofts.

On the new Seattle location, AT&T has partnered with Ada’s Discovery Cafe, a second location for the homeowners of close by Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe. The glossy coffee counter options cutting-edge coffee know-how, together with two towering, Japanese Kyoto-style bots and a specifically made “siphon-bot.” An actual human with a made-for-Seattle resume has been introduced in to handle Ada’s, too: Cole McBride received the 2018 U.S. Barista Championship in April.

AT&T confirmed off the space throughout a media preview on Friday. A mushy opening is scheduled for Wednesday, and the grand opening is Sept. 29. Jeff Bradley, West Coast area president for AT&T, referred to as The Lounge a labor of affection and a first-of-its-kind not simply from a retail expertise standpoint, however as a benchmark for your complete wi-fi trade.

“It’s a set of providers that’s designed to alter the way in which we are able to have interaction with customers,” Bradley mentioned, touting the way in which The Lounge will act as a workspace and gathering-and-events space, and the way it was essential to get the Capitol Hill “vibe” right.

AT&T relied on Ada’s homeowners Danielle and David Hulton for lots of that. They opened their first store on fifteenth Avenue East in 2010.

“We began as a bookstore, so I’m very used to speaking to folks about skepticism and getting them on board with a extremely thrilling concept that I’ve had,” mentioned Danielle Hulton, who named her enterprise after the famed mathematician Ada Lovelace. “My background is in tech, so I really feel like I do know the tempo that Seattle is shifting. We prefer to play with what I name ‘sluggish and quick know-how’ and prefer to experiment … .”

Hulton mentioned she was assured in the imaginative and prescient that AT&T had for The Lounge and in its motivation in partnering with a small enterprise, including that she thinks the large, Dallas-based firm actually cares about what it’s bringing to Capitol Hill.

The Lounge will not be overwhelmed by product shows that includes every thing from smartphones to headphones. The newest iPhone XS, for occasion, is on show on a facet desk in an space that’s designed to be reconfigured and accommodate visitor audio system, performances, courses or film nights.

A customized app for the space helps customers navigate numerous options of The Lounge, together with ordering and paying for meals and coffee, and listening to the sound from two large 4K TVs on one’s private headphones.

Clients also can store by means of the app, or from a big, wall-mounted contact display, and choose up purchases on the spot after receiving a customized QR code which can enable entry to a financial institution of lockers constructed into the wall. An AT&T worker behind the scenes feeds your buy into the locker.

“We had two goals,” Bradley mentioned, referring to tech that hasn’t been used anyplace else by AT&T. “We wished it to be complimentary to the remainder of the expertise, so we didn’t wish to have a conventional retail space. The second factor was, it’s a know-how sandbox. We’re studying … how do you join our backend buying platform to have the ability to full [these tasks] so ought to we wish to deploy this into our conventional retail environments, we are able to. We now understand how to do this, whereas three months in the past we’d by no means carried out it.”

The Lounge will make use of a handful of AT&T customer support reps, together with a concierge-type particular person, and Ada’s could have a couple of folks working alongside the champion barista, McBride.

McBride, who has been crafting fancy coffee drinks for 16 years, was lured again to Seattle for the Ada’s job after spending a few years in Las Vegas. He’s excited in regards to the intersection of coffee and know-how occurring in the space, and he appreciates the liberty to experiment {that a} small firm like Ada’s permits.

“I feel it’s actually cool how [Danielle and David] are incorporating know-how into coffee and they’re doing issues that nobody else in the trade is doing. Nobody else has constructed one in every of these, not that I do know of, and I’ve by no means seen this in my life, which is de facto cool,” he mentioned, pointing at bots at both finish of the coffee bar.

Coffee and know-how merging in one location in Seattle looks as if simply the kind of factor any savvy company would wish to faucet into. And Morgan Collins, AT&T’s vice chairman for Pacific states, just about mentioned simply that.

“We selected Seattle for this concept as a result of folks right here innovate. They’re artistic. They’re early adopters to new know-how,” Collins mentioned, earlier than including that getting cup of coffee didn’t damage the equation.

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