Starbucks is targeting an early December opening for its first cafe in Palmerston North since 2010.
The global coffee giant is taking up residency inside New World on Broadway Ave, replacing the supermarket’s own Melody’s Bakery.
Starbucks New Zealand general manager Michal Haines said via email that Palmerston North had been the most requested location for the brand, which had long intended to return to the city.
“We are really excited to be welcoming customers back who already know and love the brand.”
She said the cafe would open in early December.
Starbucks previously occupied prime real estate in the city in the early 2000s, at the prominent Plaza site where Spark now has its store.
But it struggled to convert the caffeinated. It closed abruptly in 2009 and staff were given only a week’s notice.
This turned out to be indicative of its impact nationally.
Starbucks was launched in New Zealand with plenty of gusto in 1998 by Restaurant Brands, with 50 coffee houses swiftly sprouting up. By the time the licence was sold to Tahua Capital, the chain had shrunk to 22 cafes.
Much of the struggle was put down to the country’s already well-established coffee culture.
A revamp in 2021 has again brought expansion in New Zealand with an emphasis on bespoke venues that reflect their community rather than “cookie cutter” replications.
A Starbucks coffee house opened at New World Brookfield in Tauranga in April this year.
Haines, who worked at Foodstuffs until April this year, said she couldn’t comment on whether further New World-hosted cafes could be expected or on Starbucks’ relationship with the grocery company.
She said they were excited to be working on a number of opportunities that would see Starbucks in new locations.
“Our return to Palmerston North is initially a small step back in with a small team but also helps us to have a solid, well-trained core team in the area should other opportunities arise.”
A recent poll on a community Facebook page would suggest Starbucks still has plenty of locals to win over.
Asked if they supported Starbucks replacing the New World cafe, 40% of 707 people who took part in the Palmerston North Community page survey agreed it was time for a change, but 60% enjoyed the existing cafe just the way it was.
Counting himself among them was Terrace End resident Barnabus Kent, who shared the poll with Stuff.
A regular of the old supermarket cafe, he was sad to see it go, and felt it had been “pushed out”, with little information or communication with its community.
Kent was concerned Starbucks would “infiltrate” more supermarkets.
“Overall, I think the public would prefer it didn’t happen.”
Foodstuffs did not respond to questions about its relationship with Starbucks.