Starbucks is returning its brand to the top of Capitol Hill later this month marking the end of 15th Ave Coffee & Tea as an independently branded cafe “inspired” — and run — by the global coffee giant.
CHS was briefed on the change Friday morning by a company spokesperson.
While the change will mean a new sign and the return of the Starbucks logo to 328 15th Ave East, it will not mean an overhaul of the $100,000 makeover Starbucks gave the shop in the summer of 2009, we’re told. It will, however, mean permits will need to be filed for the new sign and new “equipment” that must be installed at the shop in order to return to full Starbucks operational power. When asked what kind of equipment was required, the Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that, yes, Frappuccino blenders will be added to the “eclectic and raw” reclaimed wood and concrete interior.
15th Ave Coffee & Tea opened on Capitol Hill in July 2009 amid controversy and skepticism regarding Starbucks’ intentions in mimicking local coffee houses. The skepticism was further entrenched later that summer as CHS reported on plans for a second indie concept shop opening up on the Hill, Roy Street Coffee.
Roy Street — at least not yet — will not be part of this return to the Starbucks brand. CHS has been told that the Roy Street shop will continue to be operated as a “learning environment,” the position Starbucks has evolved for its indie-concept stores in recent months as it has rolled out an international effort to overhaul its offerings. The $550,00+ overhaul of the East Olive Way Starbucks in summer 2010 is part of this new wave — Starbucks branded but with a look and feel more tailored to the neighborhoods the stores call home. Going forward, it now seems clear, the coffee giant will be aiming for this upgrade of its core brand, not the creation of new ones like http://www.streetlevelcoffee.com. In the meantime, they’ve learned how to scale new offerings developed at the Capitol Hill shops as techniques like pour-over coffee trickle out to the global marketplace.
It also sounds like this particular Starbucks’ era of experimentation has come to an end. According to the company spokesperson, no more “learning environment” cafes are being planned at this time.
Starbucks expects the new sign to be up on 15th Ave East by the end of January.