Former Starbucks COO Troy Alstead fulfills ten-year dream with the opening of Ocean5
written by Marguerite Cleveland
Ten years ago, Troy Alstead, the former chief operating officer of Starbucks, was sitting in a hotel room in Shanghai while his family remained back home in Washington.
It can be lonely on the road—soon, he found himself with time on his hands in the evenings. Alstead began to work on an idea he had long considered, and it soon took the form of a business plan. Ocean5 and Table 47 were born.
“I have always been inspired by gathering places all around the world, whether it’s the kitchen table at home, a coffee shop, pub, restaurant or sports arena, the places where people socialize, connect and have fun,” Alstead said. “I saw the opportunity to create a very unique social place, like nothing that exists in the state. A venue that would be a fantastic place to work, a great part of the community, and respectful of the environment
Troy Alstead’s new vision
The vision was this: Ocean5, a 57,000-square-foot, LEED-certified building with activities for the whole family, including a two-story laser challenge arena, game room and a bowling alley with both ten-pin and duckpin lanes. There would be more than 100 seats for just hanging out, including around a dramatic circular fireplace, the focal point for the venue. Ocean5 would also serve the business community with a dedicated event floor that can accommodate groups from five to more than 400. Inside Ocean5, the Table 47 restaurant would offer a farm-to-table experience with locally sourced food, servers who receive farm tours as part of their training and who know where the food comes from.
With a business plan fleshed out, Alstead had the foresight to reserve space in the future Olympic Towne Center, in Gig Harbor. In 2015, he took advantage of a Starbucks employee benefit, a sabbatical called the “Coffee Break.” The break allowed him more family time, such as taking his eldest son to visit colleges, while deciding whether to make a career change. “I loved all my years at Starbucks, from the earliest days as a small Northwest retail company to a global consumer brand,” Alstead said. “But I had this idea, this dream, and knew that it would require all my focus and attention to make it happen.” He decided to step away from his corporate career and make his dream a reality.
The Ocean5 project broke ground on July 19, 2016, and is scheduled to open this winter. “Now we are just putting up the finishing touches, and there are a lot of them in 57,000 square feet,” said sales and marketing director Tomoko Senechal. “The chefs are finalizing their sourcing with local vendors to get the best-tasting, responsibly grown ingredients. The bowling pins are out and ready.”
“Reef,” the project’s main artwork, was recently installed in the lobby. The piece, by Brian W. Brush, was inspired by Alstead’s vision of sustainability and environmental awareness. The aluminum in the art installation is recycled from other projects. “‘Reef’ diverts material that would have either gone to a landfill or been reprocessed using high-energy manufacturing methods,” Brush said. “It’s a perfect example of repurposing and reusing with reduced waste and embodied energy.”
Troy Alstead inspired by the Ocean
Love of the oceans not only inspired the name and logo of the business, but how Alstead plans to run his company. He grew up in the Puget Sound area, and has always loved “the beauty, the mystery, the adventure, the fun” of the ocean. “Over the years, I have come to appreciate the risks facing our oceans and seas,” Alstead said. “We will use the platform of the business to drive awareness and inspire action to improve the health of the oceans and seas, starting with Puget Sound. We will tell stories about how we are responsibly sourcing our ingredients, how we constructed the building to be gentle on the environment, how we will use geothermal wells around the building to reduce our energy consumption.”
Like many business owners, Alstead faced his share of challenges to achieving his dream. But one thing he didn’t have to worry about, as sole investor in the project, was resistance to the increased costs due to the project’s sustainability. He chose to invest in geothermal technology despite the financial costs—as a result, seventy-two geothermal wells will help heat and cool the large building. This system is the equivalent of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by taking thirty cars off the road.
With Ocean5 nearly open, Alstead has a message for those contemplating their own dreams.
“Never quit,” he said. “If what you are dreaming about is the right thing for you and your family and community, whether that dream is starting a new business or a nonprofit or something else, then overcome whatever challenges you might face.”