SEATTLE -- After closing one of its table-service cafe locations, Starbucks Coffee Co. here is converting a second Cafe Starbucks location to a traditional coffee-house format.
While customers may no longer get meat loaf and chocolate cake brought to their table, they can choose from a selection of pastries, salads and sandwiches just as they do in thousands of other Starbucks coffee houses, officials said.
The cafe concept, in place at four units here, was always a test for Starbucks, company spokeswoman Audrey Lincoff told SN. She said the decision to convert the cafe location to a coffee-house format was based on research over a period of four years, and she added the company will continue to closely analyze the other two locations.
"We may convert them or we may close them, but we don't have specific plans right now. When you have 6,000 stores worldwide and just four of them are of one kind, the customer expects a different experience [than they were getting]. They want the retail coffee-house experience, which is what we do best," Lincoff said, explaining the company's decision.
"The location remains open [during the conversion], obviously a smaller version of it. There is a full pastry case, a bar for espresso beverages and brewed coffee. There's limited seating, and we've also provided a room for community meetings."
When it comes to what consumers want to eat and drink and in what setting they want to do it, it's always somewhat of an experiment, industry sources told SN. One consultant said Starbucks is constantly experimenting, and that's key to the company's success.
"Starbucks knows how to test and how to find out what consumers want," said Stephan Kouzomis, president, Meal Market Solutions Group, a division of Entrepreneurial Consulting Inc., Louisville, Ky. "The cafe concept is one of the ways they've tried to do that. They're always testing something."
A source at Starbucks told SN each of the four table-service Cafe Starbucks locations had different menus. "The desserts were more in line with 'evening desserts,' such as chocolate cake," the source said.