Size is no consideration for Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX). On Nov. 1, it ordered “short” with a 1,000-square-foot New York spot for online pickup. On Nov. 15, it’s going “venti” with its largest-ever store in Chicago.
The Michigan Avenue Starbucks occupies 35,000 square feet inside a former Crate & Barrel. What's known as the Reserve Roastery takes up five floors with a cocktail bar, three coffee bars and a bakery and cafe. Its unique menus feature whiskey-barrel aged coffee beans and liquid nitrogen gelato.
The Michigan Avenue site is Starbucks’ sixth roastery, bringing Chicago up to speed with Tokyo, New York, Seattle, Shanghai and Milan. The concept is larger than the standard cafe, boasts city-specific architecture and decor and draws customers with a little more dough than the typical latte sipper.
The original five roasteries have averaged 8,000 visitors per day with consumer spend about three to four times that of a classic cafe, CNBC reported.
The upscale sites test innovative products before Starbucks releases them in the broader market; tems like cascara and nitro cold brews first proved their appeal in roasteries.
Why It’s Important
The Reserve Roastery isn’t a new concept, but Starbucks is breaking ground in Chicago. The store will be Starbucks’ biggest, host its tallest cask at 56 feet and include the first curved escalator in the Midwest.
"You see the pipes that shoot the beans from floor to floor; the interior, the colors, the lighting," Shauna McKenzie-Lee, general manager of the Chicago Roastery, told WLS-TV of the store experience.
The concept aligns well with Starbucks’ reprioritization under CEO Kevin Johnson.
Since taking over in 2017, Johnson has reacted quickly to market demands, replicating well-performing projects and scrapping failed experiments. His strategy has grown U.S. traffic and China same-stores sales in the face of competitive pressure. Shares have risen 30% year-to-date.
Despite confirming in 2018 that it aimed to open 30 roasteries worldwide, Starbucks has no immediate plans for new sites.
“Right now, we’re just committed to six,” Johnson said Tuesday, according to Gulf News.
The stock was trading 0.63% higher at $83.84 at the time of publication.
Photo courtesy of Starbucks.