CHICAGO - The highly anticipated Starbucks Reserve Roastery Chicago is scheduled to open Nov. 15 on the Magnificent Mile, marking the last and largest of the chain's grand coffee palaces.
The Chicago roastery, first announced more than two years ago, will open at 10 a.m. that day in a glassy 43,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Crate & Barrel, at the corner of North Michigan Avenue and Erie Street.
The four-story emporium will employ 200 people and include on-site roasting of its rare Reserve beans, interactive tours, exclusive drinks "inspired by the culture and traditions of Chicago" and a full kitchen for making desserts, breads, pizzas and salads from Italian bakery Princi, Chief Operating Officer Roz Brewer said.
Though Starbucks is saving most details of what customers will find inside until the opening, a highlight will be specialty cocktails developed by local mixologists Annie Beebe-Tron of Fat Rice, Julia Momose of Oriole and Kumiko, and Rachel Miller of Community Tavern, that customers can enjoy late into the evening, Brewer said.
"Having mixology there creates a great entertainment space, and being able to look over the city," she said.
The roastery will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.
Chicago is the sixth city where Starbucks has opened what it calls "theatrical, experiential shrines to coffee passion," following New York; Tokyo; Shanghai; Milan, Italy; and its hometown of Seattle, which opened the first Reserve Roastery in late 2014.
There are no plans for additional roasteries, which serve as "brand amplifiers" as well as innovation centers to test new ideas, though that could change, Brewer said.
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Starbucks involved Crate & Barrel founder Gordon Segal in the design of the Chicago space, which takes a prominent corner in the heart of Chicago's tourist and shopping district. The company preserved numerous architectural details of the bright, window-filled building, constructed in 1990, focusing as much on the views from the outside in as those from the inside out, Brewer said.
Starbucks' pick of Chicago to house its largest roastery underscores the city's importance to the coffee giant, which in 1987 opened its first cafe outside of the Pacific Northwest at 111 W. Jackson St. in the Loop, a store that has since closed. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz has said Chicago was a gateway to broader expansion of the chain, which now has more than 14,000 stores in the U.S. and nearly 30,000 globally.
Some 12,000 Starbucks store managers and regional leaders were in Chicago last week for a leadership conference with top company executives, including CEO Kevin Johnson, who succeeded Schultz in 2017. It's the first time the company had convened its managers in one place since 2012 and was the largest employee conference in its history.
The event is an outgrowth of the April 2018 incident in which a manager at a Philadelphia Starbucks called police on a pair of black men who were waiting at a table, Brewer said. Amid an uproar, the chain closed all of its stores for a day of diversity and inclusion training and has conducted 12 other training sessions since.
The conference, called Leadership Experience, focused on the company's shift toward streamlining and automating some menial tasks to give managers more time to interact with customers and train store employees. It also urged greater community involvement, and each store manager at the conference was able to nominate a local organization to receive a grant from the Starbucks Foundation.
The company also planned to announce sustainability initiatives and a commitment to addressing mental health issues.
The event, which included a football-field-size replica of a Costa Rican farm in McCormick Place to encourage managers to tell the "bean-to-cup" story, as well as opening and closing ceremonies at United Center, was expected to generate $29 million in economic impact for the city, Chicago officials said when the conference was announced earlier this year.
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