well, we knew it was coming...
<b>Starbucks' grand opening has Harrisburg buzzing</b>
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
BY SUE GLEITER
Of The Patriot-News
The Starbucks chain has officially percolated into Harrisburg.
After years of waiting for the Seattle-based company to pour its high-octane drinks in the city, customers lined up yesterday for cappuccinos, Frappuccinos and espressos
"I've waited four years for this," said Patricia Grim of East Pennsboro Twp. yesterday as she ordered a caffe mocha and a maple scone.
Since moving here from California four years ago, she said it has been hard finding a good cup of coffee.
"It was like moving into prehistoric [times] ... no Starbucks," said Grim, who works at the Department of Environmental Protection. "But I think Harrisburg is turning an edge."
The Starbucks cafe opened last week in the arcade that connects the Whitaker Center for the Science and the Arts to the Hilton Harrisburg & Towers and Strawberry Square. About 100 people, including local dignitaries such as Mayor Stephen Reed, gathered outside the restaurant yesterday for a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting.
Servers passed out cinnamon twists and strawberry Frappuccino samples as four television crews set up.
An information booth just outside the Whitaker Center's second floor was transformed into the cafe with the chain's signature dim lighting, neutral color scheme and counter where energized baristas serve drinks. The cafe seats 24 people.
Despite the location off the beaten path, customers are finding the cafe. Over the weekend, a mix of clientele, including curiosity seekers and those on Sunday's Harrisburg Gallery Walk, stopped in for coffee -- a 16-ounce cup of coffee costs $1.70 plus tax.
"Everybody is excited. The number of people locally who come here is amazing," said John Stodghill, manager. "We heard so many comments. ... 'Harrisburg has hit the big time.'"
The cafe is run independently by the Whitaker Center under a licensing agreement similar to Starbucks cafes operating in hospitals and airports and on college campuses.
Whitaker president and CEO Byron Quann said people visiting the center or attending events indicated they wanted a place to sit down for light fare and coffee.
At first, he looked into offering food in the center's lobby or tapping a local restaurant to provide fare, but "decided one day to pick up the phone and call Starbucks."
The company responded by sending a representative who "calculated the likelihood of the success" of a Starbucks, Quann said.
"We knew there was no location in Harrisburg and a location like this should have one Starbucks. There's pent-up demand," said Dwayne Hoffman, chain regional district manager.
The 1,000-space Walnut Street Parking Garage, combined with the 340-room Hilton and proximity to Strawberry Square made the cafe an ideal match for the area, he said. In addition, foot traffic from the 18-floor Market Square Plaza, due to open in the spring, will funnel into the arcade.
"It makes this location the nucleus," Hoffman said.
The Whitaker cafe is the first self-contained Starbucks in the city, but not the first midstate place to pour Starbucks-brand coffee.
A Starbucks opened this year on Jonestown Road in Lower Paxton Twp., and the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Camp Hill serves Starbucks drinks in its cafe.
In addition, Starbucks has opened a stand in the Capitol cafeteria, and two months ago, Crowne Plaza Harrisburg brought Starbucks products to its lounge and State House Restaurant.
There are plans for more Starbucks to open, including locations on the West Shore, Hoffman said. Reed said he envisions two more Starbucks opening in the city, including one at street level.
By the end of October, Starbucks will open at the Shoppes at Susquehanna Marketplace in Susquehanna Twp.
"They're going to take all the business," said Geno Anderson, a Crowne Plaza waiter and bartender. "I don't know what it is, but people love Starbucks."
At Sparky & Clark's, a coffee place across from the Whitaker on North Third Street, manager Amy Trout said so far, the coffee giant hasn't put a dent in business.
"All of my regulars have been here and are accounted for," she said. "People come in and hang out. Our regulars just love us."
SUE GLEITER: 255-8230 or firstname.lastname@example.org