Starbucks has picked the Windy City for the location of the coffee maker’s next “Roastery” superstore.
On Wednesday, Starbucks (SBUX) said it would open a 43,000 square-foot Roastery on North Michigan Avenue and Erie Street in Chicago. It will be the third such massive retail store in the U.S., following the opening of the first-ever such location in Seattle, which opened in late 2014, and a store that is set to open in New York City in 2018. There are also international Roastery locations in the works for Shanghai, Milan, and Tokyo.
“Having opened our first Starbucks store in Chicago nearly thirty years ago, our first outside of Seattle, this is a very special city for me,” said Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz in a statement. The new Chicago Roastery is touted as being a “sensorial coffee environment dedicated to roasting, brewing and packaging its rare, small-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world.” These retail stores are essentially experiential spaces that offer education about brewing methods and unusual and innovate brews and coffees. As such, they are expected to result in higher prices for the company’s coffees.
The Chicago Roastery plans are part of a broader push by Starbucks to elevate the brand and in-store experience by creating a space where it can sell ultra-premium coffees. Starbucks late last year announced it had plans to open 20 to 30 Roastery locations globally, as well as up to 1,000 smaller “Reserve” stores that also aim to sell higher priced coffees.
This strategy is so beloved by Schultz that when he announced he would step down as CEO this year, he said he was doing so because he wanted to pivot his focus to the innovation, design, and development of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations.
“In addition to elevating the Starbucks brand and customer experience, our Seattle Roastery has also become a working laboratory for innovation that is driving new product introductions and contributing to results across the entire Starbucks ecosystem,” Schultz said when the executive change announcement was made in December. He was succeeded in the CEO role by Kevin Johnson, who previously served as president and chief operating officer.
In terms of how Starbucks plans to bring that high-end coffee retailing experience to Chicago, the company has already made some inroads. Currently, there are 20 Starbucks stores in the U.S. with Reserve bars, including three in downtown Chicago and one in Lake Forest, Ill. Starbucks also intends to open a Reserve store on Chicago’s West Loop next year.