Starbucks is opening up its fourth beer and wine location at 5:00 a.m., on Monday June 13, 2011.   The address is 1039 NW Couch Street, Portland, Oregon 97209.   This brand spanking new Starbucks is in Portland’s  “Brewery Blocks” neighborhood.  Today (June 10, 2011), I got a chance to step inside for a sneak preview of the store.  Unfortunately, since I worked during the day, and then hurriedly drove to Portland, I arrived quite late and missed the first hour.  I missed the traditional coffee tasting (I don’t even know which coffee was being sampled), and most of the introductory speeches from partners about the store.

When I arrived, Cliff Burrows (president, Starbucks Coffee, US) had the microphone and was describing some of the repurposed materials in the store, and discussed how the store was designed to suit its neighborhood:

Much of the alcohol featured comes from local suppliers.  The wall that says “One Person, One Cup, One Neighborhood” was designed from used bicycle tires.  The wood countertops were made with fallen walnut salvaged from an Oregon City farm.

There was quite a crowd at this event.  I looked around and didn’t really see faces that I recognized (other than Cliff Burrows!).  I wanted to connect with some of the store’s partners, but wasn’t totally sure who to reach out to.  So, I walked up to Cliff and said, “Hey, Cliff would you do me a favor?”  He immediately said, “Sure, Melody.”  I said, “Would you introduce me to the store manager?”  That was easy enough.  In a flash he located her in the crowd of people, and introduced me to Jenn McPoland, a seventeen-year partner.  Jenn introduced me to a number of people, and I had a great time chatting about the beautiful store.

I nearly missed the fact that the door to the back of the store (a partner only door) doubles as a menu for beer and wine!

I happen to take a photo of the door right when Sasha (from facilities) was coming out of it, and ended up with a great “action” photo! With her permission, there’s the door that is the beer menu.

I want to note that in the photos I’ve uploaded, some show the large gathering and some are nearly empty.  It was a fairly large party, but most people left shortly after 7:00 p.m.  I stayed a little longer so that I could take a few photos of the empty store, so that’s why there’s a mix of photos, some with no crowd, and some with a huge crowd.

At one point I asked a partner to take a close up of the beer offerings, (which are stored on a shelf behind the bar) and so here’s what the store has on its shelf:

This store isn’t particularly large, yet every nook and cranny of the space available has been painstakingly thought out for its best use.  Overall, the store has sort of an industrial feel to it, though I think that’s hard to see from the photos.  But here are more photos take today June 10, 2011, showing off the store:

Meet the store manager too!  She is standing next to a member of the design team in this photo.  (Store manger on left, brown hair.  Design team person on right).  Notice that the wall behind them is the one designed from used bicycle tires.

When all is said and done, it’s the partners that make the store.  The party had almost completely come to an end, and I lingered a moment in the comfy seating area, charging up my phone.  A barista came by with a broom and was sweeping up around me.  We made small talk, and he said he has been partner for about five years.  I asked him what he liked best about being a partner.  Without hesitation he said that it was two things:  the connections made every day with customers and partners and that Starbucks takes good care of their employees.  I couldn’t help but think that partners like him are what make the Starbucks experience work.  It doesn’t matter how gorgeous the store is.  The store has to have great partners with great attitudes.

I think Jenn has a great team.  It sounds like there are no brand new partners, and she’s managed to find really passionate people who love the brand.  This is what it really takes for a big success.  Love what you do, and do it well every single day…

Last but not least, here’s a short clip with some audio of Cliff Burrows. It’s only about the last thirty seconds or so of him speaking, but for those who have never heard him, here it is:



If you want to read about other beer and wine Starbucks stores, click back to these old posts:

Madison Park – Starbucks opens its 3rd beer and wine store

Olive Way Starbucks – First official beer and wine Starbucks

15th Avenue Coffee and Tea turns back into a Starbucks

Edit on June 12, 2011 – Decided to add a few more photos: