Sunday, January 08, 2006

Shuttered Starbucks Redux

Question: What are the only two businesses located within the 6 miles of upscale shops and restaurants on Magazine Street to have not re-opened in the 133 days since Hurricane Katrina made landfall?

Uh, that would be Starbucks Coffeehouses.

I previously visited this question on November 24th & 26th and received a hellacious amount of derision from Starbucks groupies from around the country, telling me things like "find some other place to plant your big fat ass" or words along the lines of Starbucks will not reopen until they can provide the 'true' Starbucks experience.

Well, it's interesting that in this first photo of a closed Starbucks on Magazine and Washington, there are two restaurants across the street which have been open for over two months - one's a sushi restaurant and the other is fine dining with entrees bouncing up to $28. Strange that these businesses seem to be able to provide enough of an 'experience' for their customers that they're packed nearly every day and night.

In this second photograph, this closed Starbucks on Magazine and Nashville is located directly across from another coffeehouse and adjacent to a Mexican restaurant and another fine dining restaurant offering entrees up to $32. Strange that these businesses seem to be able to provide enough of an 'experience' for their customers that they're packed nearly every day and night.

The third photo here is another closed Starbucks on Maple St., which is directly across the street from a PJ's Coffeehouse, a bubble tea shop and two restaurants - all of which have been open now for months. Strange that these businesses seem to be able to provide enough of an 'experience' for their customers that they're packed nearly every day and night.

This Starbucks is also in a heavily trafficked college part of town - and, by the way, the two Uptown Universities are open and up to 85% of their pre-Katrina student population.

Also, I think it is worthwhile to note that their are no waterlines on all three of these buildings... Why is that? Because none of them flooded.

Now look, I don't particularly care for Starbucks coffee but as a matter of disclosure, I do find myself addicted to the pre-packaged Frappuccinos, and in the great scheme of things for the rebuilding of New Orleans, this 'Starbucks' issue is pretty minor. But I wanted to make the point to the whole "Starbucks is God and the greatest corporate citizen ever" crowd that their belief is a crock of shit.

Starbucks whole philosophy and statements from their own website such as, "The connections we make in communities create a loyal following" is a bunch of bullshit.

Starbucks was failing in New Orleans Pre-K, but in a community's desperate time of need, instead of following their own corporate message and pledge, they simply closed up shop and ran with their tail between their legs... and are still running. Damn, that's unfortunate because the connections all the other coffeeshops have made in this community by opening months ago have indeed created a loyal following... for them.

Look Starbucks, we know you were struggling in New Orleans before Katrina as evidenced by only having four coffeeshops amidst a population of 460,000 and the many, many other hundreds of thousands of tourists who visited this city. But do not think someone's not going to call bullshit when you decide to eschew your own Corporate Social Responsibility Pledge which states, "Each time we open a new store, an average of 16 new jobs are created; additional local tax revenue is generated; neighbors get a comfortable place to gather; and we have the opportunity to give back to the community. Plus, we think our customers like having us around." and other statements such as, "Starbucks is located in thousands of neighborhoods, and we consider each neighborhood our home. Starbucks believes we have a responsibility to contribute positively to our communities in ways that benefit everyone."

Apparantly Starbucks means to be a vital community force everywhere except New Orleans - a place that at this time really needs vital community forces.

Postscript... We do appreciate Starbucks re-opening their other six coffeehouses in the outlying parishes. Thanks for that... but it's way too late now in New Orleans - you've lost everything here, in fact, Starbucks is becoming the symbol of corporate neglect and irresponsibility for us...

Oh yeah, with the outlying parishes being predominantly white and New Orleans being predominantly black, it makes me wonder if that had anything to do with Starbucks decision to not re-open in New Orleans?


7 Comments:

Anonymous sassy crafter said...

Amen, brother! I never felt right about having Starbucks in the city since there are so many fabulous local joints.

9:06 PM, January 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know the comments have slowed, but please don't discontinue blogging.

9:43 PM, January 08, 2006  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm partial to Starbucks, but after reading your post, I may have to rethink that.

1:41 PM, January 09, 2006  
Anonymous hoz said...

Het TAG,
Fuggetaboudit. Who wants to plant their "fat ass" at some yuppie, scuzbucket, hang anyway. Them people got no class.

The local coffeshops are so much more interesting.

3:46 PM, January 09, 2006  
Blogger WillowLu said...

I despise Starbuck's. Their heartless abandonment of the NOLA community is no great surprise considering their track record of humanitarian and environmental practices which line the pockets of CEO Howard Schultz while the impoverished children in Guatemala, Chiapas, Colombia and elsewhere who are forced into the pesticide-drenched coffee groves and are dying in great numbers to make the $4 latte possible. (Starbucks is not a Fair Trade company – they buy about enough Fair Trade coffee, 2% of their sales, to brag about it.)

Their firing of union-organizing baristas, their genetically altered milk, their indy shops-killing real estate practices, and their creation of unnecessary trash are all indicative of the same corporate apathy evidenced now in New Orleans.

All in all, Starbuck's not giving much of a crap is not nearly as shocking to me as reading about the ship-jumping tactics of the likes of Crystal Hot Sauce, a down-home-grown company you'd think would've shown some loyalty.

On a less aggro note, and for random entertainment purposes, I'll throw in my entry for an audio contest imagining a Starbuck's owned and operated by dogs: Starbark's (35 seconds / 561K)

6:34 PM, January 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crystal's is leaving New Orleans, but not the New Orleans area. They had been planning a possible move for a year, and the destruction of the facility forced them to move now.

1:19 PM, January 12, 2006  
Blogger artie said...

Starbucks never belonged in New Orleans, a city that has known good coffee long before Seattle was born.... BUT - I will say this -

when I've been far from home in difficult places (near Ground 0 a few monthes after 911) or in Daegu, S. Korea - the discovery of an unexpected Starbucks gave me GREAT pleasure and COMFORT.

ALTHOUGH...A PJ's, "Until Waiting Fills" or Borsetti's (spelling? an ancient, very original retro pad sort of near Tulane - does anyone remember these two places) would have been better - but probably impossible to find.

Starbucks is most often so.... suburban!

7:51 PM, January 14, 2006  

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