Thursday, November 4, 2010

Starbucks Madison Park to get revamp

Our neighborhood Starbucks will be undergoing a makeover sometime in the next six months, but don’t expect the end result to be anything like what’s recently transpired at certain other Starbucks locations in our fair town. Madison Park Starbucks Manager Iaan Hughes calls the upcoming changes simply “a refresh.” He notes that the store has been in its present form for eight years, and he thinks it’s time for a bit of updating. The changes anticipated for Madison Park will be a lot less ambitious, he says, than the transmogrifications Starbucks undertook in the University Village and in a more recent example closer to home.

There’s been a lot of press coverage of the just completed overhaul of one of Starbucks’ prime Capitol Hill locations, the store at 1600 E. Olive Way—known affectionately to some locals as Gaybucks. Not only was the space completely revamped, but the whole concept of the store was transformed from urban coffee house to something best described as “Coffee Theatre.” A sort of coffee-warehouse effect was one of the goals, another of which was to be green. Many of the materials used in construction were recycled, and the finished space is being touted as environmentally friendly (in fact it’s “LEED® registered or certified.”).

Nothing quite so dramatic as a “Capitol Hill East” Starbucks is planned for our staid Madison Park locale, however. Just as the Capitol Hill store was supposedly remade in the image of its community, the Madison Park store will stay true to what Starbucks thinks we want here in the Park. “It's not going to be hammered copper” or anything out of line with the neighborhood, Hughes says. “My vision for the store is that we have a lot of high profile customers and we need to keep the existing neighborhood feel.”

Speaking of high profile, Howard Schultz just happens to live three blocks from the Madison Park Starbucks and is often seen in the store. But if Hughes is in any way intimidated by his role managing the Chairman’s own-neighborhood Starbucks, it certainly doesn’t show. He’s been doing the job successfully for four years, and he feels he has a pretty good sense of the community in which his store sits.

“We had the potential to be obnoxious,” he says, referring to Starbucks' entry into the neighborhood in 2002. The local (but big) corporation replaced a couple of well regarded neighborhood restaurants that had successively occupied that space; and not everyone down here was happy about the changeover to Starbucks when it was first announced. But after the opening, the Starbucks store was “resoundingly supported by the neighborhood,” says Hughes; and it quickly became a neighborhood fixture. What Madison Park really wanted, in Hughes’ opinion, is what Starbucks delivered: “good coffee and good service.” The store was designed to fit into the Park and be part of the neighborhood—and the new store is not going to deviate from that course. “It’s not going to be cool,” says Hughes.

What this means in practice, he tells us, is an updating of the space and some new furnishings, although “the refresh” may go a little deeper than that. His goal is something “comfortable, timeless, classic—a fit for the neighborhood.” What he doesn’t want to see is anything too dark: “No museum pieces.”

Remodeling suggestions from patrons will certainly be welcomed, says Hughes. And as Amy Peterson, the store’s assistant manager, notes, once the story gets out about the upcoming revamp, suggestions will be offered whether the staff requests them or not. “Madison Parkers are not shy about sharing their input,” she says, adding, “How many times have I had someone say ‘When you see Howard next time be sure and tell him..…’?”

A lot of times, apparently.

[Photos: We challenged Manager (and "Coffee Master") Iaan Hughes and Assistant Manager Amy Peterson to prove for the camera that they can still work the bar at Starbucks. They performed admirably, showing the rest of the staff how it's done.]


  1. Hey, nobody gives us the news like Bryan. He is amazing, and we owe him a lot for keeping us abreast of the goings on in our area. Congrats again, as usual, to Bryan - an excellent journalist!!!!! HG - Madison Park

  2. Iaan makes our Starbucks what it is;the best! He has amazing energy and that also shines through in his staff. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us. Iaan said last week there is a very good chance we will get wine and beer as well and I hope we would be nice to have a mellow place, with good music to enjoy an adult beverage in the Park. Keep up the good work Bryan!

  3. Starbucks should put in a couple of hotel rooms and there would be no reason to ever go home!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.