Last year, in a weird attempt at counter-marketing--abandoning one of the most recognizable brands in the world and going into Seattle neighborhoods all stealthy-like with coffeeshops not called Starbucks--Starbucks opened two cafes called 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea and Roy Street Coffee & Tea. Maggie Savarino wrote about the new design style being rolled out on 15th Avenue while the first cafe was still in build-out mode, but a new, more rustic and industrial look was not the only change the Starbucks corporate brain trust was experimenting with. The two cafes also served beer and wine and offered live entertainment for the masses--a part of the plan which, apparently, worked out pretty well for them.
But now, Starbucks has decided to abandon the stealth cafe model and go back to doing what it does best: spreading its name to every streetcorner in every city on earth and joyously slapping up its logo everywhere it can reach.
The new plan is going something like this: From now on, Starbucks will be Starbucks. The 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea and Roy Street Coffee & Tea locations here in Seattle will keep their one-off names, but the idea of opening Starbucks locations under other names (which apparently never really fooled anyone anyway) will be scrapped. The new design styles, the beer and wine licenses and the live music that came out of the year-long test program? That's not only going to stay, but will likely be expanded as Starbucks goes through its periodic spasms of remodeling.
Like, for example, the store at 1600 East Olive Way. That's scheduled for a July remodel which will turn it into some kind of Starbucks hybrid with a patio, fireplace, new seating and alcohol--making it the first Starbucks to both wear the company colors and serve booze along with all those tall no-foam soy mocha lattes.
And who knows? Maybe they'll serve the occasional cup of actual coffee, too.