The food service industry has had to make major shifts due to COVID-19. As part of its response, Starbucks is closing 400 stores to convert its business model to a more pandemic-friendly one.
The coffee giant plans to reevaluate its sit-down stores and will transition to more locations that focus only on carry-out and pick-up orders—a pretty significant pivot for a company that put sit-down cafe culture in practically every zip code in America.
The company will be closing the 400 stores over 18 months, but during this time, it’ll be opening 300 location with this new more social-distancing friendly approach. These new stores will focus predominantly on orders placed on the Starbucks app and will be placed in cities with high numbers of existing locations like New York City, Chicago, Seattle, and San Fransisco. The goal is for every large city in the United States to ultimately be a mix of traditional sit-down cafes and to-go locations.
Of the decision, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said in a press release, “Starbucks stores have always been known as the ’third place,’ a welcoming place outside of our home and work where we connect over a cup of coffee. As we navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, we are accelerating our store transformation plans to address the realities of the current situation, while still providing a safe, familiar, and convenient experience for our customers.”