In most U.S. cities, a Starbucks is never too far away, and now even in the middle of a redwood forest there’s a tall latte nearby.
Starbucks opened a store in California’s Yosemite National Park on March 16, the company’s first location in a National Park.
Not everyone is thrilled. More than 25,000 people signed a petition calling to block the addition of a Starbucks to the park.
“I understand that they are trying to improve the infrastructure and make it better than it used to be,” Freddy Brewster, a former Yosemite trail guide who started the petition, told the Guardian. “But it is representative of what our culture is becoming. The government is increasingly dependent on major corporations. Time and time again.”
The decision to add a Starbucks location in the park was based on requests from visitors, said Yosemite Hospitality spokesman David Freireich. Yosemite Hospitality is a subsidiary of Aramark, a food service company that was awarded a 15-year, $2 billion concessions contract with the national park in June 2015.
Starbuck’s new location is a part of renovations to existing buildings in order provide more dining options for park visitors.
More than 330 million visitors passed through Yosemite in 2016, a record high. The park has about $12 billion worth of backlogged maintenance, which could be paid for, in part, by food and beverage purchases. Visitor spending is up 30%, with concessions accounting for nearly one-third of the total, according to the Guardian.
Brewster says bringing more people into the park, when it’s already in need of infrastructure fixes, isn’t the answer. But the renovation of the lodge and addition of Starbucks could prompt visitors to spend while providing a familiar place to sit and rest.
“We put a lot of thought into the design,” said Karina Lagace, a store designer for the coffee giant, which was number five on Fortune’s 2018 Most Admired Companies list.
The store, situated near the world-famous Yosemite falls, received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council and is not marked with branded signage. Inside, the bar is made from reclaimed and rediscovered redwood.