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First Look: Starbucks, Yosemite National Park

Starbucks has opened a one-of-kind location, tucked away in California’s Yosemite National Park.

The café, Starbucks’ first in a U.S. national park, is in Yosemite Valley Lodge’s Base Camp Eatery, a remodeled space that occupies the lodge’s old food court in one its original mid-century buildings. The project is a collaboration between the U.S. National Park Service and Aramark to create a comfortable place for visitors to recharge and relax. The location is the first retail location within Yosemite built to achieve LEED certification.

To create the Starbucks at Yosemite, designers preserved original qualities of the historic building, including its vaulted ceilings with exposed beams. The concrete floors were restored in a gray finish that evokes the rocky riverbed of the Merced River, which meanders nearby. There is no sign on the store's exterior, just the glow from floor-to-ceiling windows that beckon visitors.

“We put a lot of thought into the design,” said Karina Lagace, a store designer from Starbucks design studio in Fountain Valley, Calif. “We wanted to be respectful to the park and added only what we needed to.”

They took other cues from the landscape. The bar is clad in reclaimed and rediscovered redwood from Northern California. Metal pendant lights from Los Angeles feature an exposed wood grain texture. Other details include metal brackets that are a nod to vintage climbing tools, while cables looped through the brackets help suspend shelves.

Starbucks has worked to incorporate green building practices throughout its portfolio of new stores and remodels. The company is the world’s largest green retailer, with more than 1,400 LEED-certified stores and facilities in 20 countries.
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