In the spring of 1990, three old friends and long-time residents of the Madison Valley neighborhood met to discuss the possibility of buying the abandoned laundromat at 29th and East Madison and converting it to a vegetarian restaurant.
Their motives were simple: to establish a friendly, community based vegetarian restaurant close to home, to develop a restaurant that could stand as a model business in attending to the health of the planet, and to introduce superb non-meat dishes from culinary traditions around the globe utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce.
After a year of the planning and development process in which the laundromat was gutted and rebuilt for its new purpose, Cafe Flora opened October 1st, 1991. In 2008, then general manager, Nat Stratton-Clarke, was asked by the original owner to purchase the restaurant. Nat accepted and has kept Cafe Flora as a thriving, community oriented gathering place. He refreshed the space by adding a bar area with seating, reclaimed wood accents using materials from local farms, refinished the floors with a soy-based stain, and began serving cocktails.
Since opening its doors, Cafe Flora has been at the forefront of utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce and herbs and building strong, direct relationships with Washington farms. Its culinary team draws inspiration from international traditions and the availability of abundant, locally grown produce to create imaginative and dynamic vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free cuisine.
Cafe Flora has also carried its eco-conscious philosophy into its atrium, a charming garden retreat just off the main dining room. The garden atrium brings al-fresco dining to guests year round. Bathed in natural light, the space boasts exotic greenery, a bubbling central fountain and natural stone accents. The collective effect creates a warm, appealing and calming environment for guests.
The winning combination of eco-friendly philosophy, community based involvement, and cutting-edge, dynamic vegetarian cuisine has brought tremendous success. Two decades and one abandoned laundromat later, Cafe Flora remains Seattle’s premier vegetarian restaurant.