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Starbucks ready to invade Rome


Starbucks, which over the past five years has established a beachhead in Northern Italy, centered on Milan, now has turned its eyes southward, with a plan to open its first store just across the street from Italy's Parliament.

Despite early skepticism that it could survive in northern Italy's coffee culture, the chain now has 22 stores in Italy, with only one in the south, in a suburb of Rome. While there have been rumors of various locations in Rome the chain might pick, it's settled on a three-story former restaurant on Piazza Montecitorio, opposite the legislature.

Work has begun on renovations and the store is to open sometime in April. Starbucks connection to Italy has recently produced a new line of olive-oil-infused drinks, available in its Italian stores and soon to come to the U.S.

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Most of the previous outlets have been in the Milan area, which they picked because of the tourism and international business travelers, as well as Italian businesspeople who may have acquired the habit in their travels. Given my own feelings about the quality of Starbucks’ coffee, that’s a real tragedy!

I think they're gaining ground not because of the quality of their coffee, but because they offer people a place to sit, linger and use free wifi for as long as they want (assuming they order something).  That is the appeal of Starbucks to most people I know and distinguishes them from most coffee shops in Europe.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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