What started as a 470 square-foot café in Pike Place Market in 1996 is now Seattle’s largest and longest running woman-owned, full-service catering and gourmet box lunch Company.
I recently had the privilege of inviting Alissa Leinonen, CEO and Founder of Gourmondo, to speak to a group of students at the Foster School of Business. Through hearing her story and learning more about what she’s done with her company and for the community, I couldn’t wait to stop by the newest café.
While Gourmondo started as a public café in Pike Place Market, Leinonen strategically shifted the company away from public cafés and towards a focus on catering in order to sustain and grow the business. Over the years, she has successfully expanded her company to offer full-service social and event catering, a retail line of gourmet salad dressings, and a successful Corporate Café division. With a solid foundation under the company, Leinonen is returning to Gourmondo’s roots and opening a handful of public cafés.
The space that recently opened is their fourth cafe—on the ground floor of the Omeros building in Interbay. It features fresh grab-and-go breakfast and lunch options for the public, as well as a curated mini market. Menu items include made-to-order coffee drinks, pre-made hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, and a variety of delicious desserts, including housemade ding dongs.
During a recent visit with colleagues on a Friday afternoon, we sampled a variety of salads and sandwiches, as well as a bottle of red wine (which paired quite nicely with the ding dongs). We enjoyed relaxing in Gourmondo’s newest space and learning more about Leinonen’s vision for the company, as she joined us for lunch.
Leinonen launched Gourmondo with the vision of creating a business that offered high-quality, fresh, local ingredients. In addition to the quality of the food they serve being central to Leinonen’s vision, her deep personal and professional commitment to family and to her employees and the community have been at the heart of Gourmondo since the beginning.
Leinonen was recently named EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year in the Unstoppable category in the Pacific Northwest Region. As the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Of The Year recognizes entrepreneurs excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities, while also transforming our world.
“I’m profoundly grateful to have received the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year award for the PNW region, and honored to be included in such an exceptional line-up of entrepreneurs,” said Leinonen. “To be recognized in the Unstoppable category was particularly meaningful for me, given the 23-year entrepreneurial journey I have been on. If there’s one thing I have learned in business is that it doesn’t matter how smart, educated, or experienced you are, or even how much money you have, what matters is that you believe in yourself, that you are willing to take risks, and that you never ever ever ever give up.”
Whether you’re looking for a great catering option for your next event, or a casual spot to grab lunch in the city, I cannot recommend Gourmondo enough. Leinonen is a CEO making a difference in the lives of those she works with, as well as our community and our city, and you will taste the difference in the quality of their food.
Gourmondo Café Omeros | 201 Elliott Ave W, Seattle | (206) 587-0190