Starbucks plans to open a four-level Roastery flagship on Michigan Avenue, its largest space yet for the high-end concept that the coffee giant is rolling out throughout the world. (Starbucks)
Starbucks plans to open a four-level Roastery flagship on Michigan Avenue, its largest space yet for the high-end concept that the coffee giant is rolling out around the world.
Executive Chairman Howard Schultz said the company plans to bring its Starbucks Reserve Roastery showplace to the current Crate & Barrel building at Michigan Avenue and Erie Street in 2019.
The Roastery is an interactive format where customers can see rare, small-batch Reserve beans roasted, brewed and packaged.
"It’s not a coffee store, the essence of it is the theater and romance and something so experiential," Schultz said. Schultz first had the idea for the Roastery stores in August 2009, when he wrote about a plan to create "the Willy Wonka of coffee." Schultz recorded that idea and others in a journal he kept about his plans for the chain.
The Tribune first reported plans for the Chicago flagship on April 17.
Starbucks’ confirmation of the Magnificent Mile showplace comes 30 years after Starbucks opened its first coffee shop outside the Seattle area in Chicago at 111 W. Jackson Blvd.
"It was so vitally important, because if Chicago didn’t succeed I doubt we would have been able to build a global brand like we did," he said.
At 43,000 square feet, Chicago’s is the largest among six Roastery emporiums that Starbucks has announced. The size will eclipse a planned 30,000-square-foot space in China, which had been the largest one announced to date.
It will be the third Roastery in the United States, following one that opened in Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle in December 2014 and another expected to open in New York in 2018. Roastery stores are set to open in Shanghai this year and in Milan and Tokyo in 2018, the company said.
"It’s going to cost tens of millions of dollars to build this Roastery — these are big bets," Schultz said. "But as a company we’re not building for next year but the next 50 years."
Chicago’s Roastery will feature interactive tours, multiple brewing methods and specialty Reserve drinks. In addition to selling Reserve drinks and beans, all Roastery locations will feature foods such as artisan breads from Italian baker Rocco Princi.
The deal marks the end of an era for a local retailer, Northbrook-based Crate & Barrel, which has had a store in the Michigan Avenue building for 27 years.
Crate & Barrel spokeswoman Jill Assad said the store will remain open through the holiday season, likely closing by early 2018. Its other store in the city, on North Avenue in the Clybourn Corridor, will remain open, she said.
"There are no immediate plans for another Chicago store, but we’re continuously reviewing our real estate portfolio to meet our customers where they want to shop," Assad said.
The glassy Michigan Avenue building is owned by a venture of Crate & Barrel co-founder Gordon Segal, who sold his majority stake in the home goods retailer in 1998.
Schultz said the deal to lease the Magnificent Mile site was born out of a longtime friendship with Segal.
When Segal sold Crate & Barrel, Schultz recalled bringing Segal to Seattle to see the first Roastery "with an ulterior motive." Schultz was hoping that Segal would someday agree to lease the Chicago store to Starbucks.
"When I realized what we could do in that space … I was absolutely coming out of my skin, I was so excited," Schultz said.
Schultz said the Chicago Roastery’s final design is still being worked out, but he teased what could be a major feature.
"The store gives us an opportunity to do something very dramatic with the escalator that will fit with the Willy Wonka theme," Schultz said.
Segal was represented in the Starbucks deal by Camille Julmy, a vice chairman at CBRE. Starbucks was represented by Adam Secher, a principal at Baum Realty Group.
"Howard and I share the same passion for the companies we created, each centered around the customer experience and a relentless attention to detail," Segal said in a Starbucks news release. "This building has a unique way of becoming a beacon for a brand and I can’t think of a better retailer than Starbucks to offer Chicago something new and exciting with its Reserve Roastery."
In addition to the massive Roastery, Starbucks also is introducing its Reserve brand in other Chicago-area shops. That includes plans to open its first Reserve-only store in Chicago at 1000 W. Randolph St. as early as 2018, according to the company.
The Reserve stores have a traditional Starbucks menu, like basic brewed coffee, but also bring in some aspects of the Roastery like a coffee bar featuring the company’s small-lot Reserve coffees. Reserve stores also offer of different brewing methods as well as Nitro Cold Brew taps and specialty beverages unique to the higher-end stores.
Starbucks said it eventually plans to have 20 to 30 Roastery flagships globally, and as many as 1,000 Reserve stores.
Currently there are 20 U.S. Starbucks stores with Reserve bars, including three in Chicago and one in Lake Forest.
Twitter @ Ryan_Ori