U.S. entrepreneur Howard Schultz was inspired 35 years ago to transform Starbucks following a trip to Milan, and the coffeehouse chain has finally opened its first Italian store.
Schultz credits a trip in 1983 to Millan for shaping his vision for Starbucks. Schultz added that he walked the Milan streets and was captivated, intoxicated and seduced by the coffee bars in the city.
The first Starbucks opened on Friday and is a “Reserve Roastery” location in Milan that looks similar to many small cafes that Italians frequent.
The store is in a former post office at Piazza Cordusio, only a couple of minutes’ walk from La Scala opera house. It has a 30-foot long bar carved from a single piece of Tuscan marble.
The roastery in Milan is the third by Starbucks following its Seattle and Shanghai locations and will sell small batch, premium coffees as well as food by Rocco Princi an Italian baker, said Starbucks.
The goal is the top end of the coffee market, as an espresso will cost $2.10, which is more expensive that the $1.15 charged at several other Italian cafes.
Before finally arriving in Italy, Starbucks opened over 28,000 stores across 77 markets. In Italy, the coffee culture is a serious thing, and purists most often will drink their espresso while standing at their favorite café counter.
An analyst said that the successful strategy of serving super-sized drinks that feature lots of milk, will not work in Italy for Starbucks.
Those cultural differences can be ignored, the analyst added and the new stores in Italy are focusing on preferences of the local market like espressos and made to order pizza and ice cream instead of using the traditional drink menu formula of Starbucks.
That means the Frappuccinos are not on the new Starbucks menu in Milan. Nevertheless, younger Italians are likely to be intrigued by the experience of stopping by Starbucks, where clients often times linger and chat with friends or work on their laptops.
One analyst said that the coffeehouse chain could follow the successful example of pizza chain Domino’s Pizza, which has made its own niche in Italy even though skepticism reigned that an American pizza chain could be successful.
Starbucks announced its plans to have more stores open in Milan with Percassi its licensing partner starting in the latter part of the year.