On Friday, Starbucks (SBUX) debuted New York’s most grandiose coffee shop with the opening of its Reserve Roastery in the Meatpacking District, just across the street from one of its 300 existing NYC stores.
The 23,000 square-foot location offers an “immersive experience” where customers can taste small-batch coffees roasted on-site or drinks like whiskey barrel-aged cold brew along with traditional espresso offerings. The location also offers breads and pastries from Princi, the Milanese bakery by Rocco Princi. There’s a bar inside too called Arriviamo where customers can imbibe on specialty cocktails just like the Milanese tradition of aperitivo.
“We bring it all together and really create an elevated experience for our customers,” CEO Kevin Johnson told Yahoo Finance.
The idea for the Roastery was proposed at a company board meeting nearly five years ago. At that meeting, the company’s long-time leader Howard Schultz shared a vision for creating “the pinnacle of the coffee experiences in flagship cities around the world.” Since that time, Starbucks has opened Roasteries in Seattle, Shanghai, and Milan. After New York, the company will open locations in Tokyo and Chicago.
Starbucks operates nearly 30,000 retail locations worldwide, serving 100 million customers each week. Part of the strategy behind the Roastery is to drive innovation for the broader retail footprint.
“Much of what we think about the Roasteries has not only created that elevated experience for our customers, but it’s an innovation lab for us,” Johnson said. “This is a place for us to try new beverages, experiment with new things.”
Johnson, a former technology executive, joined Starbucks board a decade ago. He took the helm as CEO in April 2017. During his tenure, he’s focused on streamlining the company, emphasizing the customer experience, the digital relationship with customers, and beverage innovation.
“The digital relationship, we believe, is something that’s very important in this next generation of retail,” Johnson said, “It’s not just what you do in the brick-and-mortar, but can you extend that to a digital, mobile relationship with your customers?”
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.