It is time now for a review of Starbucks store #13418 in Austin, Texas. This store is a LEED Certified Starbucks. By the way, this store visit was a "scheduled" store visit, meaning that the store had advance notice (nearly one week before my arrival) of my exact day and time of arrival, and knew that I was arriving to write a blog article about this store. As might be obvious, I picked this store because of its LEED Certification. This was strange. First, allow me to describe below, what this store visit felt like from a customer perspective:
A guest (who will be referred to as "John Doe") and I were excited to visit a LEED Certified home of a friend in Texas. They know we're coming. We parked the car. The lights were on. The doors were unlocked. We go inside. I asked questions to the two people inside the home. They don't know anything.
"I"m sorry we don't live here. We can't answer any questions about this house. I'm a house sitter." Said the occupant wearing a green apron.
"Don't a lot of people actually co-own this house?" asked Melody.
"They are all gone. There is no one here but the house sitters."
They knew we were coming. I feel confused. "Nobody is here but house sitters?"
The green apron house sitter reiterated that the owners were gone.
"They've all left together. The WHOLE group of them. They were going to event. We can't answer any questions. We don't know anything. We are just working house sitting this big house."
We sat in the living room for about forty minutes. Finally a third person in a green apron arrived, but he is another house sitter. We leave.
The lights are still on.
The doors are still unlocked.
Now let me tell you what actually did happen:
I arrived at exactly the scheduled time with "John Doe." The store should have known we were coming. John wanted to ask questions about what it is like to work in a LEED Certified Starbucks.
Here is the address:
Starbucks store 13418 1201 Barbara Jordan Blvd. Austin, TX 78723 (512) 391-1801
This store appeared to have no idea we were coming. Two partners were working. Although it was warm out, this store had a lot of air conditioning going. I decided to order the bold coffee offering. The register barista stated to me, word for word, in the afternoon we have, "Pike, Pike, and more Pike." Finally, after a few minutes of conversation, he offered a pour over. It was clear this option did not excite him. I asked what the pour over was for today. The register partner ("Josh" I think) stated, "I don't know. I just know it is bold." I pushed, trying to figure out what it might be. He insisted, "I have no idea!" The register partner explained that he and the bar barista were both borrowed partners. They were not there when the coffee was ground and so they had no idea, they just knew it was bold. I ordered the "bold" in a for-here cup.
My friend and I sat at the counter near the Mastrena, waiting on my coffee. The bar barista handed me a cup of coffee with visible grounds along the inner sides of the cup. I quickly pointed that out, and he immediately offered to remake the cup of coffee.
My friend and I spent about thirty to forty sitting at the counter. Almost this entire time, the two partners behind the bar were trapped there, because the store had just two partners.
A friend and I continued to wait for the coffee. We made small talk with the bar barista and learned that the entire store was full of borrowed partners, including the third person who would be arriving soon.
The conversation with the bar barista went something like this:
"Do you know anything about this store?" (I had been asking about some unusual design features.)
"I don't know anything. We are both borrowed partners."
John and I inquired further, "There is no one here who actually works in this store?"
"No the WHOLE store left together. They wanted to go to a rollerderby event."
"Rollerderby?" I had this idiotic expression on my face just processing this information. The WHOLE store was out together. I had never really thought about this happening.
Clearly the bar barista saw my expression of confusion. "Do you know what rollerderby is? They are at the Austin Rollerderby" he said.
Even the person I was with appeared confused and had to say it back to him. "So the WHOLE store all went together to the rollerderby and left this store with all borrowed partners?"
I looked around. I took some photos. I asked no more questions about the store because there was no one to ask. About ten minutes before John Doe and I left, a third partner arrived. The lobby got its first attention during the time we were there. You can see the third partner in one of my pictures. He is the young person in the white baseball cap, with his back to the camera.
As we were leaving, I asked the bar barista his name. He said his name was "Roland." I introduced myself as "Melody." There was not a single hint of recognition in his face when hearing that name.
Strange. I can't really imagine leaving my store, and not even telling the covering partners that a guest from Seattle was coming to write an article about the only LEED Certified Starbucks in Texas.
In short, I have zero sense of what this store might normally be like. I met the house sitters.
Here are the photos: