Once Starbucks moves away from its ‘Third Place’ model, what does it have left to offer?

Sep 24, 2022, 7:37 AM | Updated: 8:20 am

FILE - This file photo taken on June 26, 2019, shows a Starbucks sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop in downtown Pittsburgh, Pa. Starbucks is closing 16 stores around the country because of repeated safety issues, including drug use and other disruptive behaviors that threaten staff. The coffee giant said Tuesday, July 12, 2022, the closures are part of a larger effort to respond to staff concerns and make sure stores are safe and welcoming. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

Earlier in September, Starbucks announced in front of shareholders its plan to move towards convenience and away from its “Third Place” business model — Howard Schultz’s idea that Starbucks locations are a community space between work and home.

According to the Seattle Times, the company will emphasize drive-thru, pick-up, and delivery options among new store openings within the next two years, with only 2% of new openings being cafe-style stores.

“I don’t think this is going to be a good thing for Starbucks, because I think one of the reasons people go there in the first place is because it was a meeting place,” host Ursula Reutin said.

“I’m not just going for the coffee. I am going for the partners that work there. I love the community aspect of Starbucks,” host Gee Scott agreed.

Starbucks closes 5 Seattle locations, more across the nation, citing increased crime

The Seattle Times report notes that Starbucks plans to open some 2,000 locations in the U.S. over the next three years, a high number that is subsidized by convenience-first store openings — 35% will be drive-thrus, 14% pick-up only, and 5% delivery.

“Starbucks has been out gamed in their third place idea,” producer Andrew “Chef” Lanier noted.

“But it is a place with generally a very clean bathroom. You know what you’re getting gonna get in terms of atmosphere and environment. It’s a great place for a quick meeting. If you take that away, what does Starbucks have left?”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Once Starbucks moves away from its ‘Third Place’ model, what does it have left to offer?