Starbucks Corp.’s (NASDAQ: SBUX) largest Roastery location in the world had its grand opening in Chicago this week. The new five-story, 35,000-square-foot superstore is located at 646 N. Michigan Avenue in the city’s Magnificent Mile neighborhood. Its construction was first announced in 2017, when then-CEO Howard Schultz said he wanted the Chicago roastery to be “the Willy Wonka of coffee.”
The new Roastery, created from a former Crate and Barrel location, has massive windows that let in large amounts of natural light. The first floor is dominated by a golden roaster that prepares 25 pounds of beans at a time. There is a 56-foot steel cask that stores coffee beans located in the center of the store, surrounded by the region’s first-ever curved escalator. Customers on the escalator can watch the beans travel from the cask through a series of glass, air-powered tubes up to the Experimental Coffee Bar on the third level.
The Roastery features specialty coffees and teas, craft cocktails, and fancier food than a normal Starbucks location. There are three coffee bars that offer a variety of brewing methods, an Arriviamo Bar that serves a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and Princi, Starbucks’ bakery and cafe concept. It is also the only location in the United States to sell liquid nitrogen gelato, a sweet dessert that pairs very well with coffee.
The Chicago location is Starbucks’ sixth Roastery and is the only one larger than its Tokyo location. The location will be open seven days a week and employs about 200 people. Starbucks said the Chicago Roastery is a tribute to the city and region, where it has nearly 800 Starbucks stores and employs more than 18,000 people.
Starbucks has been testing a variety of new concepts lately. In addition to new design concepts and menu items, the company recently opened its first Starbucks Pick-Up, a smaller location in New York that encourages orders from its app.