Starbucks Roy Street Coffee project to open Wednesday

We reported over the weekend about the preparations to open the second ‘secret’ Starbucks on Capitol Hill taking an odd step backward — a worker painted over a recently completed Roy Street Coffee sign above the new shop. No matter. Starbucks says it’s a go for a Wednesday opening. Here’s our favorite line from the media announcement, below:

Like other new stores we’ve opened recently – 1st and Pike and University Village in Seattle, Paris Disney and Conduit Street in London, this coffeehouse is a celebration of the community’s personality and values.

Capitol Hill is just like Paris Disney. Here’s the announcement:

On Wednesday, Starbucks will open our new Roy Street Coffee & Tea, inspired by Starbucks, in Seattle, WA.  In the same spirit as 15th Ave. Coffee & Tea, Roy Street Coffee & Tea is a new concept coffeehouse that reflects the local neighborhood’s values and personality and celebrates the Pacific Northwest’s coffee heritage, materials and artists.


Like other new stores we’ve opened recently – 1st and Pike and University Village in Seattle, Paris Disney and Conduit Street in London, this coffeehouse is a celebration of the community’s personality and values. Like all new Starbucks stores, whether they are Starbucks branded or the new concept stores, Roy Street Coffee & Tea uses regional materials, features the work of local artists and is designed for sustainability. We look forward to being a part of the vibrant and resurgent Broadway neighborhood when Roy Street Coffee & Tea opens on Wednesday.

We invite you to a media preview event tomorrow with Major Cohen and Liz Muller from Starbucks Global Development team as they discuss the design and construction strategies behind the new concept. As the second store in Starbucks LEED® Volume Certification pilot program (announced just last week), Tony Gail with Starbucks Environmental Impact team, will also be onsite to discuss Starbucks goal is to significantly reduce its environmental footprint through green construction, energy and water conservation, and recycling. Additionally, store manager, Jacob Webber, will be available to discuss the Roy Street Coffee & Tea’s connection to the surrounding neighborhood.

You might recall that the opening of the company’s first stealth ‘indie’-styled cafe on 15th Ave inspired a few shenanigans. We’ll see what happens at Roy and Broadway on Wednesday morning.

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22 thoughts on “Starbucks Roy Street Coffee project to open Wednesday

  1. So apparently Starbucks considers it smarter marketing to self-congratulate for their community-minded/green/sustainable/LEED efforts than for simply making a decent cup of coffee. Trying for both, now that would be something.

  2. Please, just don’t patronize this shop. There’s Joe Bar 1 block over, Vivace 3 blocks down. We don’t need another Starbucks experiment on the Hill.

    Starbucks, you’re just manufactured drivel that only plays in the ‘burbs. Stay out there instead, please.

  3. How dare you, Starbucks. How dare you give people jobs, give people health insurance, and attempt to compete in an overly crowded field while charging as much or more than your competitors do.

    For shame, Starbucks.

  4. As much as I patronize smaller independent chains and local coffee houses, I still find myself going to Starbucks every now and then. For one I feel welcome and the staff is always friendly and cheerful. There are so many times that I have walked into an smaller coffee house and all I got was a snooty attitude in places like Bauhaus, Victrola and Ladro. They make you feel like they are doing you a favor by making you a latte. What is up with that?

  5. why are Seattlelites a bunch of whiney little babies?…I couldn’t care less about S-Bucks or any other store – If I don’t like it I don’t patronize it but I definitely don’t act like little school girls telling others what store they should patronize or not.
    C’mon, let it go..and just don;t go..instead try to be adults about this instead of some annoying person….

  6. I live nearby, and a close walk to Vivace and Joe Bar, both of which I frequent. Nevertheless, on weekend afternoons when I like to spend time at a coffeeshop with a book or some work to do, it can be close to impossible to get a seat at Joe Bar or Vivace.

    As long as the coffee is good, and the atmosphere is inviting, I’m happy to patronize the location, especially when the employees are paid decently and have good benefits.

  7. Reality check for the idiotic liberals who speak without actually knowing:

    Standing up to Starbucks

    Adam Turl talks to barista and union organizer Erik Forman about the campaign to organize Starbucks.

    April 17, 2009 | Issue 695 [1]

    WHEN BANK of America hosted a conference call to discuss how to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, one executive used a new formulation: “the Starbucks problem.”

    His worry: workers might follow the example of Starbucks baristas and form their own unions without waiting for bigger “traditional” unions to organize them.

    In the past five years, the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU)–a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)–has spread from one Manhattan store to win hundreds of members in New York City, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Grand Rapids, Chicago and beyond.

    The SWU has made inroads among a section of the workforce–low-wage retail workers–that many unions have written off as too difficult to organize. Indeed, organized labor represents just 5 percent of workers in retail.

    Since its formation, the SWU has won a series of important National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rulings and achieved gains for baristas on the job. Given the dire straits workers face today, if Corporate America is worried about the “Starbucks problem,” then union members and supporters should take a close look at the SWU.

    Starbucks likes to present itself as a “socially responsible corporation.” In reality, Starbucks workers face the same problems that other retail workers face: unpredictable hours, inaccessible health care, low wages and lack of job security.

    “The core of the problem boils down to this: Starbucks orders ‘labor’ the same way it orders coffee beans or paper cups,” said Erik Forman, who works in the Mall of America outside Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    A major issue for Starbucks workers is the way the company organizes hours. If baristas want a “full-time” workweek of more than 32 hours, they must make themselves available for up to 70 hours a week. “Starbucks uses something known as ‘automated labor scheduling’ software to determine how workers will be scheduled,” Forman said. “If the system projects a slight downturn in business on a particular day or week, baristas lose work hours.”

    The problems extend to wages and benefits. In the Minneapolis area, starting pay hovers just above Minnesota’s state minimum hourly wage of $6.15, ranging from $6.50 to $7.50 an hour. Raises generally lag behind increases in the cost of living. And while Starbucks widely promotes the fact that it offers health insurance, the company spends far less energy making sure employees are actually covered. Less than 42 percent of Starbucks employees are on the company’s health care plan–a lower rate than Wal-Mart.

    “You have to work a minimum of 20 hours each week in order to qualify,” Forman said. “With wild fluctuations in the number of hours you are scheduled, workers and their families often lose their health care for six months at a time.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    WORKER DISCONTENT over Starbucks’ pay and conditions set the stage for organizing. In May 2004, workers at a midtown Manhattan Starbucks launched the SWU.

    From the beginning, the company went all out to bust the union. “We wanted to negotiate with Starbucks over our serious concerns,” Forman recalled. “But rather than sit down at a table with us, the bosses began writing checks to the union-busting consultants of Akin Gump and the PR flacks at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. They contracted Edelman to craft a facade of ‘social responsibility.'”

    At first, workers filed for a NLRB election to vote on union recognition. Starbucks responded by “using its political clout to gerrymander the bargaining unit from one pro-union store to every store in midtown and downtown Manhattan,” Foreman said.

    The workers realized they couldn’t win, so they tried a different tack. Unable to go the traditional route to unionization via an NLRB election, they drew on more radical traditions–fighting back around wages, benefits and working conditions and recruiting baristas to the union without official NLRB recognition. As Forman says:

    We’ve decided to go back to the basics of the labor movement. Workers organized unions before 1935, before we had a “right” to organize…In developing an organizing model that works in the service industry, we’ve gone back to the roots of unionism, opting for a strategy that puts “direct action” at the center. We’ve been able to spread because we’ve done something that business unions would consider unthinkable–we’ve put our organization entirely in the hands of rank-and-file baristas.

    Forman said that the SWU emphasizes what it calls “solidarity unionism”–that is, the idea that “workers are most powerful where the bosses need us most: on the shop floor. Our power as workers comes from our ability to withhold our labor, or interfere with the production process in other ways.”

    At the Mall of America last summer, workers confronted management about unbearable temperatures in the store. As Forman described it:

    We had been complaining about how hot it was for years, but management refused to buy a fan or install air conditioning because it was “too expensive.” At the same time, our store was pulling in $30,000 a week.

    One morning, four of my coworkers walked into the back room of our store and gave the boss an ultimatum: “Will you buy the store a fan? Yes or no?” He stalled….so my four coworkers walked off the job, got in a car and drove to Target, leaving the boss to cover the floor. He was livid.

    About 20 minutes later, my coworkers walked back in with a $14 box fan. They plugged it in, wrote “Courtesy of the IWW,” drew a small black “Sabotage cat” [the IWW logo] on it, and enjoyed the breeze.

    This left management with a choice. They could either remove the fan, in which case they would look like jerks. Or they could leave it there, as a monument to their own negligence.

    To their credit, they did the right thing. Two days later, the district manager arrived with a $150 industrial floor fan. Two weeks later, they began installing air conditioning. This is the power of direct action. One week, $40 is too much to spend to bring the temperature in the store to within OSHA standards. The next week, management is spending $10,000 to keep the workers happy.

    Similarly, in August 2008, a union member and single mother from the Bronx, Anna Hurst, suffered heat stroke on the job at a New York Starbucks and was forced off the work schedule for two weeks. In response, a dozen baristas marched into the store during rush hours and demanded she be compensated.

    Forman recalled another situation at the Mall of America where workers’ action on the job resulted in a quick victory:

    One of our coworkers had not been paid by Starbucks for almost a month because of a bureaucratic mistake…When we found out about this, the four of us who were working decided to stop work and demand that our coworker get her paycheck. For about 10 minutes, we told customers we were on strike, sending them elsewhere for their coffee. We called the district manager to complain. He came to the store later that afternoon and cut our coworker a check. We won.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    IN ADDITION to confronting management’s abuse of workers on the job, the SWU has organized pickets and rallies to draw attention to the union and workers’ fights against management.

    “Since 2004, we have made real progress.” Forman said. “After months of pressure from the union, Starbucks conceded a wage increase for baristas in the New York City metro area in 2006. We have fought numerous battles over health and safety issues, discrimination, and unfair treatment by management in the workplace. Despite Starbucks nationally coordinated anti-union campaign, the union continues to pick up steam.”

    Government documents show that Starbucks has spied on union members (including after work hours) and transferred workers to keep down the ratio of pro-union workers. In New York City, the company was found guilty of nearly 30 violations of labor law–including interrogating employees and firing union members.

    As Forman explained, the Starbucks Workers Union has “had to fight tooth and nail for our right to exist as a union at Starbucks.” Starbucks management has already been forced to agree to four settlements with the NLRB over the company’s violations of the workers’ right to organize.

    As a result, Starbucks has been forced to reinstate employees, pay damages and make agreements with the union–for example, to allow baristas to wear union pins at work. The company also faces outstanding NLRB cases in New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, and Grand Rapids, Mich.

    Erik Forman himself was terminated for union activity in July last year. The day after he was fired, workers at his store walked out in protest, and more than 50 baristas in the Twin Cities area signed a petition for his reinstatement. Within a month, he was rehired and paid back wages.

    Nevertheless, management continues to target SWU activists. “Recently, Chicago IWW barista Joe Tessone attempted to confront CEO Howard Schultz about this treatment of baristas,” Forman said. “Two weeks later, he was fired on specious grounds.”

    Faced with this level of harassment, Starbucks workers have put international solidarity at the center of their campaign, including a global day of action against Starbucks last July 5. That day, French workers staged a sit-in at a Paris Starbucks in solidarity with fired American baristas. As Forman said:

    Starbucks is a global company, so we have to be a global union. In addition to labor solidarity, we have made efforts to build ties to coffee farmers through our “Justice from Bean to Cup” initiative. We sent Sarah Bender, a New York City barista, to Ethiopia to a meeting with coffee farmers there who were demanding a decent price for their beans from Starbucks.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    EVEN THOUGH Starbucks remains profitable, the company is using the economic crisis as a pretext to squeeze more out of workers. Management tactics include cutting hours and closing stores, without cutting back on workloads. In response, Starbucks workers have organized pickets against layoffs and store closings, the lack of severance pay and a speed-up in the pace of work.

    “Naomi Klein’s recent book, The Shock Doctrine, comes to mind,” Forman said. “While Starbucks profits have dipped, it’s still an immensely profitable company, bringing in over $300 million in pure profit last year alone. And yet, Starbucks has used the language of ‘crisis’ to push through a string of anti-worker cutbacks.”

    Forman says the company is squeezing workers hard:

    First, they haven’t increased the base wage in almost three years. Second, they’re making new demands on workers’ schedules through what management calls ‘optimal scheduling,’ laying off thousands of baristas while forcing the remaining skeleton crew to be available for up to 80 hours out of the week.

    On top of this, they have been running the stores at even lower levels of staffing than in the past, leaving us scrambling to get work done. And of course, since last summer, they’ve been shuttering stores, kicking workers to the curb who made the record profits of the last decade possible.”

    Liberte Locke, a New York barista, made a similar point to The Epoch Times newspaper. “In my store, the layoffs have been targeted at workers who have been there the longest,” she said. “Employees were given no warning: they didn’t even let them finish their shifts, and they were given no severance pay.”

    The company has the money to avoid these cuts. Thus, when Starbucks recently purchased a corporate jet for $45 million, the SWU pointed out that the money “could provide over 5 million additional work hours to employees in need or maintain its gutted 401k program for three years.”

    Given the scale of Starbucks’ attacks, the SWU’s gains are all the more impressive. They point to how the sparks for a revitalized labor movement could come from outside traditional unions, just as employers fear. Other recent examples include the two-week strike by nonunion workers at the Cygnus soap factory [2] in 2007 in Chicago and the Republic Windows and Doors factory occupation [3] in the same city in December 2008, led by the independent United Electrical workers’ union.

    For their part, SWU activists see themselves as part of the militant tradition of unionism that the IWW championed at its founding in 1905.

    “There is a direct link between the revolutionary vision of the IWW and the day-to-day dynamics of solidarity unionism in the Starbucks campaign,” Forman said. “Our message for workers is that if we can do it at Starbucks, we can do it anywhere. It is possible to organize, even at Starbucks, even in the Mall of America.”

  8. they aren’t paid decently and they don’t have good benefits. What the fuck is it with liberals who think something is real just because they say it’s real?

  9. another bunch of whiners gritching because people shouldn’t patronize another starbucks owned store. Truth is you people are so pathetic and worthless that you couldn’t get a job at starbucks and now you can’t stand the idea of patronizing them. Fine, so be it, but STFU, idiots!

    Looking forward to MANY drinks at Roy St.

  10. 1. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “predictable hours.”

    2. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “accessible health care.”

    3. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “job security.”

  11. If you live in the neighborhood and love Joe Bar, you will continue to go to Joe Bar.
    If you are curious about Roy Street, you’ll check it out.
    Let’s be real: this is the internet. All this crass discourse over coffee is ultimately useless. All you people getting internet-rage over “THEM DAMN LIBERALS” and “THOSE MONEY GRUBBING STARBUCKIANS” will never do anything to back up what you’re saying.. other than frequent the cafe of your choice.

    However, if there is ever a REAL LIFE knife fight on Roy and Broadway over this.. please let me know. It’s too quiet around here sometimes.

  12. Is it Starbucks? Is it not Starbucks? I don’t really care. I go to Starbucks, Caffe Vita, Caffe Ladro, Victrola’s, etc. depending on where I am and what I’m in the mood for. I don’t go to Vivace’s because I don’t particularly care for their coffee, and I haven’t yet made it to Joe Bar but it’s on my list. So far there’s enough coffee drinkers on the Hill to keep all these places afloat and I haven’t noticed Ladro or Victrola suffering from the 15th Tea & Coffee shop or the Sbux kiosk in Safeway. I’ll stop by Roy St. if and when I feel like it. That might be next week, that might be never.

    Would people feel better if it was another indie coffee shop opening? I don’t see how that’s any different in terms of creating competition and providing less than “perfect” benefits to employees. But I suspect people wouldn’t complain quite as much without a nice, big target to attack.

  13. when i worked at starbucks in college, i earned almost $11/hr (min wage was around $7 at the time), accrued paid vacation, and was eligible for health insurance (which i didn’t participate in because i was still on my family’s plan, could be a factor in why it has such a low number of enrolled employees). at the time, they even gave all partners a free pound of coffee each week.

    compare that to my second job at abercrombie where i was offered fewer hours, less regularly, had no paid vacation, and was paid minimum wage with no pay raises.

    starbucks treated its employees far better then any other retail establishment i’ve had the pleasure of working at. no union is necessary as it a low skill, easily replaceable job. not to mention that baristas there don’t really do anything anymore, everything is automated and push-button style.

    if you don’t like how they treat their employees, don’t work there. otherwise, thank them for how much they have added to the local seattle community.

  14. 1. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “predictable hours.”

    Fuel Coffee.

    2. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “accessible health care.”

    The price of health care is too high for almost any small business owner. (But major kudos to Cupcake Royale for providing health care to its employees.)

    3. Please name one Capitol Hill coffee shop that offers its employees “job security.”

    Fuel Coffee. I feel more secure in my job than people I know who’ve worked for the same company for twenty years.

    I can only speak for where I work – but I have NEVER felt that I was treated unfairly. And I have worked for a corporate retail food store in the past. It sucked.

  15. This is a nice coffee shop to study but FREEZING COLD!
    You should make it nicer, so people could stay and eat something else at least, otherwise you just want to leave this place.