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20 Things You Didn't Know about Sur la Table

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, then you're probably familiar with the housewares retailer Sur La Table, Inc. The retail store maintains an impressive stock of a variety of kitchenware, cooking utensils, and appliances. It's all about housewares and items that improve cooking and serving, and it's a little bit of heaven for anyone who is passionate about cuisine preparation and entertaining guests. If you haven't checked it out yet, then here are 20 things you didn't know about Sur la Table that might make you want to. If you're already hooked on the store, then you'll enjoy reading these interesting facts about them.

1. It was founded in 1972

Sur La Table is a business that was founded by Shirley Collins. She opened a single store at Pike Place Market. The store got its start at this popular location for tourists and shoppers and it was an ideal place to begin the new venture. Collins sold her company in 1995 to the new owners called Investcorp, which is based out of Bahrain. They moved the corporate headquarters to the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

2. Sur La Table is second in the nation in size

The Sur La Table company is the second largest retailer of specialty cookware in the United States. The only such company that is larger is Williams-Sonoma. They began a rapid expansion after Investcorp took over the business in 1995. Within a decade the company had grown to the second largest. This shows that even during the ups and downs that the economy has experienced in the past few decades, the leaders of Sur La Table were certainly doing something right because the business has continued to grow and add new locations throughout the country. By 2015, they had opened more than 100 locations in 30 different states.

3. Sur La Table has sells under multiple platforms

If you're a loyal shopper who usually shops at one of the brick and mortar locations, then you need to know that they also have a website. You can often find everything that they offer for sale in their stores and more on their website. Sur La Table also published catalogs if you enjoy this kind of shopping. It's really cool that they offer three different ways for you to shop from their large collection of specialty cookware and more.

4. You can learn how to cook at Sur La Table

Even if you're not particularly skilled at cooking, all it takes is a desire to be. Sur La Table offers cooking classes at many of their stores. These helpful classes are available for beginners as well as intermediates in the kitchen. This is a great way for them to sell more of their nifty gadgets and specialty cookware. You can actually learn how to use some of the really interesting items that they offer for sale while learning how to prepare specialty dishes. It's also a great way how to meet new people who are also just learning more about cooking.

5. Sur La Table, Inc. offers a gift registry program

Brides-to-be have a wonderful resource for acquiring some high-quality cookware and kitchenware products by registering through Sur La Table. They offer just about everything that a new couple could ever want or need to stock their kitchen when starting a new life together. If you or somebody that you know is going to be getting married in the near future, then Sur La Table can help to get you started on your new life with all the bakeware, tabletop, and linens, small electric appliances, cooks tools, cutlery, glassware and so forth, you could imagine and more.

6. Most of Sur La Table retail stores are equipped with kitchens

The cooking classes that are offered by Sur La Table are so very popular with their customers that they've made sure to equip most of their retail outlets with full training kitchens. We learned that 82 out of 100 of them were already set up with the facilities. We also learned that every new store that is built will feature a kitchen to ensure that everyone in the communities that they serve will have the opportunity to enroll in their cooking classes.

7. Sur La Table wasn't their first name

Just before Collins opened her first Sur La Table store in the Pikes Place Market location, she had a change of heart. The original name of the business was going to be Fromage et Formica. The reason for this name is that Shirley had a passion for dairy and a few other popular decor schemes that the name fit in with well. When the time to open the business neared, she had misgivings about the name. She wasn't sure that it was the most suitable and after some careful thought and agonizing over the decision, she made the choice to change the name of the new store to Su La Table.

8. Sur La Table has an interesting blog

If you're just finding out about Sur La Table, it might interest you to know that they have a really great blog. The started it in 2014 and it's been popular ever since. The name of the blog is "A Sharp Knife & Salt." The blog keeps a keen focus on a variety of worthy restaurants, chefs, food and related products. It's very informative and if you're a foodie or if you just love cooking, or even dining out and trying new cuisine, it's filled with great news and information. If you're a cook, you'll appreciate the new products that they present to make cooking more fun and in many ways, easier too.

9. Sur La Table literally means "on the table"

This is the English translation of the name of the company. Sur La Table is an excellent resource for thoroughly equipping your kitchen with high-quality cookware, small appliances, and gadgets, but it's much more than that. You can also find novel items for serving, bar items, and glassware to equip your bar and beverage station. There's more though, they also sell linens and an entire line of products for setting your table and making it a breathtaking focal point in your home.

10. They also sell outdoor items

Sur La Table doesn't just offer products for the kitchen and living room, they also offer products to set an amazing table outdoors. They offer the Chilewich line of outdoor table products including tablecloths, placemats, cloth napkins, dinnerware, and cutlery. They offer everything that you need to set a proper table for your summer entertaining or enjoyable family meals. They're the indoor-outdoor store that has thought of just about everything when it comes to cooking, serving and making the table a very special place to be. You can learn more about this through their amazing blog.

11. A new hire is a special occasion at Sur La Table

Most people start a new job and there isn't really any fanfare involved with it. The day usually consists of brief introductions, a lot of paperwork and starting an orientation or training program. It's a lot different for Sur La Table employees. Without exception, Sur La Table sets up a very special introductory day for each new employee. They offer what has come to be known as a "pour over" coffee ceremony. This is just how they welcome the new employees who join their organization.

12. Sur La Table's wares were props on a "Rocky" movie

Do you remember when Rocky Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallong make his iconic run up the steps when he's training for the big fight? He was originally holding a Sur La Table saute pan in the air, but the scene was redone after the film advanced to post-production so it never made it through the original cut. We're told that Sly Stallone had his personal 12 inches saute pan from Sur La Table on the set.

13. Sur La Table has something in common with "Twilight"

When the Vice President of Creative Services for Sur La Table holds the annual planning meetings to get their catalogs planned out for the next year, they meet in a treehouse kitchen. It's a modern kitchen through and its location is in the high hills of Forks, Washington where the blockbuster hit movie "Twilight" was filmed. Sur La Table was there a while before the "Twilight" franchise became a thing though.

14. Sur La Table has its own crew of Chefs

The amazing retailer maintains a crew of Resident Chefs. These are the experts in charge of teaching the company's cooking classes. This allows students to register with confidence that they're going to be learning the basic skills, and in some cases, beyond, from professionals who know their way around the kitchen. Prior to being hired, these pors are required to go through a culinary boot camp and that is just a part of the evaluation process before final approval is made. Not just anyone can qualify to work as a resident chef for Sur La Table. The candidates must also pass an exam about knives and participate in a name that cheese contest, and much more.

15. Customer Service Center Reps will truly surprise you

The first time that you see one of Sur La Table's Customer Service team reps, it's likely to take you by surprise. Yes, it's novel that every one of them wears a chef's hat, but that isn't the most interesting thing. Every one of their reps also wears a mustache and it's pencil thin. They do this when they're on customer service calls.

16. The cookware and cutlery buyer for Sur La Table was on a reality television show

We learned from the Sur La Table blog that one of the knives that Sur La Table has available was featured on an episode of "Stainless Steel Chef."If you're not familiar with the program, it aired in 2009 in Australia and you can check it out for yourself because it was a winner after the former champion was dethroned with speculation that a rust problem had developed.

17. Sur La Table sponsored a special event in Seattle

If you're a croissant lover then you're going to love this one. Back in 1993, just two years before Collins sold the company, Sur La Table sponsored an event that they called the "croissantathon." It wasn't an event that became big or an annual thing, but it's still really cool that they did it.

18. Sur La Table pay homage to Julia Child

The corporate headquarters for Sur La Table in Seattle makes their feelings about Julia Child known in a big and bold way. There is a life-sized statue of the celebrity food personality proudly on display in the reception area. It's not made or brass, copper or plaster though. The statue is made completely from extra-sharp cheddar cheese. No worries, it's kept in a display case with a temperature that is maintained at a constant 41 degrees Fahrenheit. You won't run into a moldy or hard and cracking bust either because they switch it out for a newly carved version once a month. Now that's real dedication.

19. Sur La Table is a world record holder

Here's a fun and interesting fact about Sur La Table. They're known for their resident chefs who teach cooking classes, and all, but they did something really cool in 1986. They made the biggest Quiche Lorraine in the world. It's the largest one that has ever been baked of all time. It's a whopping 238 feet wide and it took up so much area that airplanes flying above the Duluth parking lot where it was displayed could see it clearly.

20. Sur La Table chefs are allowed to wear t-shirts, but nobody else can

We were curious about the dress code for employees at Sur La Table. What we found is that all employees working in the store must wear solid colored clothing and the shirt choices are button-down, polo or turtle-necks. This applies to everyone but the resident chefs. They are allowed to wear t-shirts, but they must be a solid color and they cannot have any type of print or images upon them. They must, however, wear a branded Sur La Table chef's coat over the top.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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