Michael Gordon, resident flaneur, reports in:
Have you noticed that most Starbuck’s do not allow you to sit in their café? Sometimes there is outdoor seating and sometimes not:
Also, I’ve noticed that in a few short months in the past year, Starbucks closed five of their cafés within a 15-minute walk of where I live. It’s notable that the two remaining open near me have a parking lot in front of them rather than being street-fronting cafés.
Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer assured customers recently that there will still be cafés with sitting but new innovations to build sales are being pursued such “like drive-thru only stores that have no seating, very small units, the side-by-side drive-thru lanes”.
Starbucks is planning to close 400 stores in North America by the end of 2021 and open 300 with a focus on pickup and takeaway – no chairs, no Wi-Fi. (Apparently, every 15 hours a new Starbucks outlet opens in Mainland China.)
Still, there are five indie cafés with seating within a five-minute walk from where I live despite the Starbucks’ closures, so I’ve not noticed the closures. One new one is opening soon called ‘Lumien.’ They offer seating, tables, coffee, food, WIFI and will host us when we are looking for one of our third places.
I am intrigued with what is replacing Starbuck’s in their former locations. For example, you can now find at the foot of Yew at Cornwall a café sharing the same space as an eyewear shop staffed with baristas and eyewear stylists – now that’s the kind of innovation I appreciate.
On 4th Avenue, a former Starbucks location will soon be a ‘Turkish Bakery.’ Hmm yum! I’m liking that innovation for a bakery.
Regrettably for Starbucks and thankfully for us, the zoning in Vancouver does not allow drive-thrus anywhere except in some industrial areas. This helps to keep cars off our sidewalks.
The character for shopping and restaurant areas in Vancouver is that they be street-oriented as required by the City’s commercial zoning.
But don’t despair drivers, there is a drive thru Starbuck’s on industrial land at 850 Powell Street.