Starbucks Tests Shops With Strictly Drive-Thru or Walk-Up Service

NEW YORK -- Starbucks is launching a pilot program of small shops that offer only drive-thru or walk-up service rather than interior service and seating, according to a Fast Company Design report. The 500-square-foot locations will be LEED certified and use local materials.

The new location designs are tied to Starbucks' Shared Planet Initiative, as are all store designs since 2008, when President of Global Development Arthur Rubinfield returned to the company, according to the report. The initiative requires Starbucks to behave responsibly, use "ethically sourced and responsibly grown coffee," reduce its environmental footprint and give back to the communities it's part of.

"To both build scale while having things be locally relevant, that's really a designer's problem to solve," Anthony Perez, senior concept design manager for Starbucks, told the news outlet. "It's a really, really challenging problem."

The drive-thru and walk-up shops are made of a prefabricated, modular set of rooms that have space for three to five employees but enough equipment and ingredients to offer a full Starbucks menu. High-end facades built around the mass-produced structures will use local materials sourced from within 500 miles, according to the report.

"What we've done is standardize the interior," Perez stated. "But what we want to be able to do is, as people are going around this prefab, we want the materials on that exterior to feel like it's part of the local environment."

Despite the differences in size between standard Starbucks locations and the pilot program shops, there will be visual similarities. "We're working with lots of ways to build palettes similar to what we have inside the cafes, but now we have them on the outside," said Perez. "We're not looking for all the stores to look similar. They're going to look very, very different around this idea of craft."

Starbucks plans to place the modular locations on roads where many local customers drive to work, according to the report.

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