By Benjamin Romano
The Seattle Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A new “Reserve” store in Seattle is the first of up to 1,000 such high-end stores Starbucks has said it plans to open as it spends big on an expansion toward a higher-end, fuller-service part of the food and beverage market.
Starbucks wants to introduce America to Italian aperitivo culture.
A bar offering pairings of appetite-inducing cocktails with ingredients such as Aperol and Campari, served alongside aged parmigiano reggiano and Cerignola green olives, anchors one corner of the company’s new Reserve store, which opened on the ground floor of its headquarters building in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood Tuesday.
It’s the first of up to 1,000 such high-end stores Starbucks has said it plans to open as it spends big on an expansion toward a higher-end, fuller-service part of the food and beverage market. Starbucks founder and chairman Howard Schultz sees falling rents in premium retail locations easing the way for his plans.
The Reserve store would feel familiar to someone who has visited the company’s larger Roastery showpieces, which opened in Seattle’s Capitol Hill in 2014 and Shanghai last year. Four more Roasteries are planned in Milan, New York, Tokyo and Chicago in the next two years.
But while the Roasteries, with their centerpiece coffee roasters, have an explicit educational and entertainment function – “the theater of coffee,” in the words of one Starbucks spokeswoman – the Reserve stores’ scale and layout hews closer to the company’s concept of a “third place” to gather and linger. With the addition of a full bar, Starbucks hopes it can finally persuade customers to linger on into the afternoon and evening, when cravings shift from caffeine to booze.
“We want to be a part of the community and are looking forward to being a stop on the way to sporting events, on the way to theater, on the way to concerts,” said Shauna McKenzie-Lee, director of operations for Starbucks’ Siren Retail line, which includes the Roastery and Reserve store formats.