Chicago will soon be home to the largest Starbucks in the world, which makes us wonder: Is Starbucks trying to change the way we consume our coffee?
Judging by how excited everyone gets when a popular fast food chain announces they’re now delivering, it’s safe to assume more and more of us would rather someone bring us something to drink than having to drive somewhere to get it ourselves.
Which is why the announcement of the biggest Starbucks ever to exist is both amazing and confusing.
Do we NEED a 43,000-square-foot Starbucks? One that serves pizza and cocktails in addition to its usual pastries and coffee drinks? Is this a thing anyone asked for?
There’s nothing wrong with pizza, cocktails, and coffee existing in the same vicinity. But this is kind of a big deal. At least in one location, Starbucks as we’ve always known it has changed.
If it’s true that Starbucks is really trying to transform its brand into an experience, instead of a place you rush to on your way to work, then this move makes sense. It’s not that 43,000-square-foot stores are going to pop up in every city around the world. This is, at least for now, an experiment.
Why try something new when Starbucks is such a well-known name with so much brand loyalty? To put it simply, selling coffee is a business, and if a company doesn’t stay ahead of the game in figuring out how to keep selling coffee, they’re going to lose money.
The problem is that people just aren’t hanging out at Starbucks anymore — at least not during the afternoon lull that follows the lunch rush. Incorporating more foods and beverages suited for casual afternoon dining is actually a strategy they’re already working on.
So it makes sense that the biggest store location in the United States would serve sit-down meals in addition to beverages other than coffee, particularly of the alcoholic variety.
Really, Starbucks is just trying to figure out the right moves to make in the years to come. So many customers prefer to-go and delivery these days — in the fast food market as a whole, not just coffee — that some are starting to wonder if operating fewer or smaller sit-down locations is the next phase of commercial caffeine consumption.
Or it could go the opposite way, and Starbucks could become more of a place you go to for entertainment rather than a place you go to stop for coffee before you go somewhere else. Only time will tell.
Let’s not forget Chicago is also big on tourism. This Starbucks could very easily become the fast food equivalent of “The Bean.” You won’t be able to visit the city without taking a picture in front of it. And who wouldn’t want to brag that they’ve been to the “mega Starbucks”?
This could just be a Chicago thing, and nothing else, store size-wise, will change anywhere else.
Do we need the biggest Starbucks that ever was? Probably not. Are we going to make sure we visit it if we ever get close enough? Absolutely.
Because as tiresome as the Pumpkin Spice Latte craze might often seem, and though many other small coffee shops might have better-tasting beans, Starbucks loyalists will try almost anything they’re offered. It’s why we don’t question our $5 lattes. It’s why we willingly visit our local store twice and one day just to get more stars toward a free drink.
Starbucks knows this. They know that despite the risk, we’ll give any new endeavor a chance. The same way we’ll keep coming back for our PSLs every September, no questions asked.
Is visiting this Starbucks on your travel bucket list? Who would you bring with you to experience it?