Doomed. Doomed. We're all doomed.

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Reading the article what scared me was the Starbucks guy talking about “living the Starbucks experience” and making the shop “come alive”. What do they put in that water?

These stories of a Starbucks opening in MIlan “early next year” have come up just about every year. for as long as I have been in Italy. So maybe one day it will be true. Milan is, of course, just about the only city where they might succeed (maybe they can open up down the street from the Bagel Factory in Corso di Porto Vittoria or one of Milan’s many branches of California Bakery.)

One of the most striking things to me about my first trip to Vienna was how much the historic cafes in Vienna reminded me of Starbucks. Not only is the decor/upholstery of Starbucks more knock-off Viennese-Klimt than it is Italian, but the extensive menu of coffees with whipped cream and flavorings in Vienna is the obvious model for Starbucks, not Italy. About the only resemblence to an Italian caffe is the Starbucks system of making you wait in line to pay for your coffee first at the cash register before getting it from a barista, rather than being served by a waiter at a table.

Not unwisely, Starbucks promotes the myth that they are bringing the Italian coffee experience to the world, because Austria just isn’t as sexy as Italy (hey, Hitler drank in those Viennese cafes). But the Italian coffee experience is a lively conversation standing at the coffee bar, taking with neighbors, where the Starbucks experience – like Vienna – is burying oneself in reading material at an isolated table, nothing social about it at all.

Cafe Griensteidl in Vienna

Cafe Landtmann in Vienna (note similarity in upholstery to Starbucks)

Tazzo d’Oro in Rome

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There’s McDonalds in Paris, Subways in Rome, and KFC in Tokyo.

Starbucks was inspired by Italian coffeeshops. We’ll survive a chain trying to open there. I’m sure American tourists will be relieved to see it.

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If we could have Starbucks only where American tourists were likely to see them, that’d work for me.

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TRight, because British tourists are such models of decorum. :slight_smile:

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What, like, next to the biggest tourism sites, where everyone in the world goes?

Absolutely.

No need for one in Blackburn or Rochdale. I’d doubt they see an American tourist from one year to the next.

Oh please. There are chains all over the world. They serve a purpose. If it bothers you then don’t go there. Doomed???

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I seem to recall a KFC right across the street from the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I don’t know if it is still there. There is a McDonald’s in a really beautiful historic building in Porto, Portugal, and a Starbucks in another wonderful historic building in Lisbon.

I didn’t know that. Where is it? [Edited to add: I just found it with Google, and the one Yelp review, from 2013, is very funny.]

Which is…-- ?

The power of advertising.

I think it was the Holiday Inn chain that had a motto “The best surprise is no surprise at all.” Those people.

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It does. And I don’t.

I think most restaurants aim not to surprise their customers. So that can’t be it.

I think people are entitled to work against corporate chains and the marketing of that kind of food to people, protest against it, and it’s a good thing they do.

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What’s that Italian “pasta” restaurant chain called? When I was in Florence back in the 90s, I couldn’t believe how popular it seemed to be with Italians, the younger ones in particular.

No, it literally was, in that they were a neighborhood coffee & tea spot in Seattle that Howard Schultz bought to start selling espresso drinks. He’d already started a chain of Italian-themed espresso shops and basically merged that with the Starbucks brand when he bought them in the mid-80s.

Gorgeous Kaffeehäuser. Have yet to make it to Vienna.

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Regarding whether chains owe their success to attracintg customers who don’t like surprises, Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks (whose every utterance I do not believe) said this to the New York Times today in the interview published today:

Mr. Schultz said Starbucks planned to develop a proprietary coffee blend for the Italian market, and he predicted that the quality of Starbucks coffee “is going to surprise people in Italy.”

Buona fortuna con quello, Sr. Schultz (I guess)

I really do think it is a story told for marketing purposes. I don’t think it is sincere. You can read the interview in the NY Times. Which is not to say Mr. Schultz himself doesn’t believe it by now, and the people he hangs out with.

Vienna is a fascinating place. If you like cake and history, it is heaven. Also has an exceptional art museum. I don’t know what pasta restaurant chain in Italy you are referring to. Not saying it doesn’t exist, just don’t know about it.

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Yah, strange. Google’s no help whatsoever. Pretty sure it had “pasta” in its name. Food looked abysmal.

It’s not invented.

Starbucks, the coffeeshop, started in 1971, in Pike Place Market. They were called Starbucks Coffee & Tea and were a pretty standard coffeeshop.

Howard Schultz opened a chain of Italian-themed coffeeshops called “Il Giornale” in the mid-80s, and then bought Starbucks in '87, and they started serving his style of espresso drinks.

I know you don’t believe that he traveled to Italy and was inspired, etc etc, but there’s such a thing as actual, real facts that you can’t pretend are invented, such as when stores opened and when they started serving various beverages that became wildly popular. It’s OK, you can dislike Starbucks but still be OK with the fact that they popularized espresso drinks in America.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold