The decline of the economy continues apace, and one of the indices is that fact that Starbuck's is shutting down nearly 10% of its coffee
shops. This means about 600 locations. Of course, there are good and sufficient bottom line reasons for this move. These cafes were not
making enough money and probably losing more money than some of the profitable ones make. Starbucks tried to gobble up the entire market
in a long but probably absent-minded fit of expansion. There are now, if I am remembering correctly, six of them just in and around Harvard Square.
The first Starbucks in the Square replaced a cafe called the Coffee Connection, where I held my individual tutorials and met with students
for appointments. Its pace was a bit slower and both its coffee and cakes were much better. Alas, gone.
There are still at least two other coffee shops where the brew has always been a big improvement over the ones at fast food Starbucks.
One is Peet's, which is also a chain but without the ambition to remake the entire country's pace of drinking. The other is Finale, a small local network with pastry you can die from...and probably will.
Any shutdown of 10% of a big chain expresses a grim reality in the economy. And it also means disaster for individuals and their families, even though Starbuck's wages were probably at the minimum wage or just above it. In any case, 12,000 employees have been laid off.
Update: A commenter writes:
Coffee Connection was owned by George Howell, who sold his shops to Starbucks. He spent the next 7 years or so developing relationships with individual
growers around the world, and now has a roasting outfit in the Boston area (Terroir). Unlike Starbucks and Peet's, which tend to over-roast, Howell's coffee is light-roasted so that the unique flavor of each bean is not lost. He's become sort of an icon in the specialty coffee movement. Crema -- which isa fantastic cafe that just opened in the Square -- serves George Howell products.