The history of monorail espresso
Monorail Espresso was founded in 1980 by Chuck and Susie Beek. After a successful flight attendant career, Chuck couldn't deny a growing interest in the coffee business. After learning that an espresso cart belonging to Cappuccino Craig was soon to be for sale, Chuck made the leap. The cart had been built by Kent Bakke and John Blackwell of La Marzocco out of a Boeing surplus shuttle cart and was the first of its kind. In 1980, Monorail opened for business and introduced the cultural Italian staple of espresso to the wet city streets of Seattle via the world’s first espresso cart. They put the cart to work at the downtown entrance of Seattle’s famed Monorail. Soon the cart was a mobile success blowing people’s tired minds with rich and bold coffee. This kicked off the coffee cart craze in Seattle. By the mid 90’s there were hundreds of coffee carts downtown.
Eventually the cart landed under the marquee to the Coliseum Theater on 5th Avenue and Pike Street. By the time the theater closed, Chuck and Susie’s little espresso business had become a coffee mainstay, popular with tourists, local commuters and bike messengers. When the theater was renovated for retail, Monorail moved to its now-famous walk-up window location on the Pike Street side of the historic building.
Chuck owned Monorail Espresso for 32 years, selling it to Monorail barista and manager Aimee Peck in 2012. Aimee has gone on to grow Monorail with the same streetwise and rebellious nature with which it was founded. Using the same celebrated custom blend and sticking diligently to the core principles of quality coffee and great customer service, Monorail has since opened two more locations in Seattle’s downtown corridor: in the lobby of Columbia Center and on Westlake Ave in the Denny Triangle. Now the woman-owned and operated enterprise proudly employs a mostly female staff, upholding the values of social justice and equality with which the company was started. Chuck may have retired from the coffee business, but he is still a mentor to the company and bakes our famous Chubbie chocolate chip cookies.