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11/15/2022

First Look: Starbucks’ new mega-store in Empire State Building

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Starbucks has unveiled a one-of-a-kind destination with a stunning, one-of-a-kind design in New York City.

 Starbucks Reserve at the landmark Empire State Building offers exclusive experiences that include hands-on coffee workshops, guided tasting flights and an array of new premium coffee beverages and cocktails. Spanning 23,000 sq. ft. and three floors, the store also features a full-service bar and restaurant, with an extended menu of food items exclusive to the location.

“Starbucks Reserve locations are designed to spotlight our exquisite Starbucks Reserve coffee and showcase our heritage, expertise, and dedication to coffee craft through interactive coffee experiences where barista craft is the cornerstone,” said Mark Ring, senior VP of U.S. retail at Starbucks.  “The Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building store is a one-of-a-kind destination that highlights our commitment to push the boundaries of coffee craft and offer our customers new, immersive and multi-sensory coffeehouses that are designed to inspire and create moments of connection in this special space.”

Design Details 
The new Reserve pays homage to the heritage of the iconic building in which it is housed. The Starbucks design team worked closely with Empire State Realty Trust (the owner of the Empire State Building) to bring the store’s façade back to building standards, which included reclaiming the second-floor windows and rebuilding the decorative mullions and finials.   

The coffee giant also worked closely with the Empire State Building’s historic landmark preservation consultant, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, to consult on the building’s exterior details to ensure compliance with landmarks preservation guidelines.

“We paid careful attention to protecting and revitalizing landmark pieces in direct and close consultation with the Empire State Building’s landmark consultant,” said Jill Enomoto, VP of Starbucks Siren Retail Design. “We feel really proud to bring it back to its original beauty and intention.”

The building is done in the Art Deco style, which is defined by strong geometric patterns, rich colors, and ornamental details. Related design elements can be found throughout the store — from the columns and walls to the art installations, glass partitions and furniture. The elements serve as modern interpretations of the Art Deco style and materiality of the building.

“We applied an artful interpretation of Art Deco in the Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building store,” said John Nelson, senior store designer for Starbucks. We nod to it with our color palette and patterns while also making it our own.”

Starbucks worked with New York-based West Elm to design and furnish many of the pieces in the store. In some cases, West Elm co-designed the pieces, customizing its seats and tables for Starbucks with rich and warm textures to maximize comfort. In other cases,  West Elm worked with Starbucks to manufacture a piece that was designed by Starbucks.  

Designers created accessible seating for all with a variety of seating options — from low lounge seating to counter height bar stools. A unified floor plan ensures that all levels are easy to navigate and are wheelchair accessible via a new passenger elevator.

Level One 

The first level of the store was designed for customers looking to grab coffee and food-on-the-go. (The store also exclusively serves and sells Starbucks Reserve Empire State Building  Microblend, a coffee that was inspired by and honors the iconic building and is roasted locally at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery located in the Meatpacking district.)  It also features a variety of curated local artist merchandise collections along with other items for sale. 

An open staircase connects the street level with the concourse below and level two above – with all three floors connected visually with a jewel-toned mural by Brooklyn-based artist Dana Tanamachi that showcases the contributions of women in coffee.

Concourse Level 

The concourse level will offer coffee workshops and guided tasting flights, and boasts artwork that immerses customers into coffee experiences with larger-than-life visuals of handcrafted beverages and vibrant animations of coffee storytelling. A lounge space can be reserved for private events.

The darker tones of the floor  are accented by gilded touches that include brass columns and fluted glassware. The featured artwork includes  a 25-foot hand-painted Starbucks Siren.  The mural was designed by Brooklyn-based artist Marcos Chin, who created the gilded Siren in his striking style mixed with modernized Art Deco details.

Second Level  

Stairs or an elevator take customers to the second floor,  home to a full-service bar and restaurant. The space is layered with shades of sultry rich green, shimmering gold touches and a mural with a central gilded figure of a coffee farmer. The ceiling  has gold textured paint, echoing the hand-painted gold leaf ceiling from the building's historic lobby.

The Reserve concept made its debut in 2014, in Seattle. Additional locations include Shanghai, Milan, Tokyo, Chicago and New York City’s Meatpacking District.