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Starbucks opening included delays, bookstore downsizing

by Laura Marchand March 15, 2016
Starbucks opening included delays, bookstore downsizing

Remaining bottom floor of the bookstore to be replaced with “community space”

Students heading to the library may have noticed a new edition to the LB building: a compact Starbucks café has taken over a chunk of the bookstore.

Photos by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Photos by Marie-Pierre Savard.

The new space—operated by Concordia’s food services provider, Aramark—opened Feb. 29. It is one of the many of the licensed food providers currently operating on Concordia campuses. The project has been in the works for over a year.

“The Starbucks was in the original plan when Aramark won the bid on campus,” said Sabrina Lavoie, Concordia’s executive director of budget planning and business development. “It just took a little longer than expected to open.”

According to Lavoie, the café was slated to open in September 2015—but struggles with the licensor and renovations pushed the date back.

“The way [Starbucks] is managing their brand is very strong and it takes a long time for them to design the plan, approve the plan,” said Lavoie. “It takes a lot of back and forth, and that created a lot of delays.”

While Lavoie said that this exchange is not uncommon, the LB Starbucks took an unusual amount of time. “They’re very strict on their design so they keep a certain standard,” said Lavoie. “Starbucks seemed to be particularly long … we were expecting a bit of a delay, but it was way longer than we thought.”

“Choosing a site for a Starbucks location involves many factors,” said a Starbucks spokesperson. “We often work with licensees to bring the Starbucks experience to new locations like [universities].”

Lavoie also confirmed that the reno costs were included in Aramark’s initial bid to the university. As part of the bid, Concordia University agreed to pay a sum to cover renovations—a total of $2.1 million for five spaces across both campuses, according to Lavoie. “Starbucks was one of them,” she said.

Lavoie added the renovation fund was also used in areas such as the Buzz cafeteria, the Tim Hortons in the SP building, and the Green Beet café in the Hall building.

Photos by Marie-Pierre Savard.

Photos by Marie-Pierre Savard.

“These contracts are set up to ensure that the university will make a modest profit on the activities,” said Concordia University president Alan Shepard. “The key goal is to make sure we have food and beverages that our community wants to have … and not to lose money on it.”

The Starbucks café is one of many changes coming to the bookstore in the near future. The store will be condensed onto a single floor on its upper level—though Shepard said that there are no concrete plans for what else will be moving into the bottom level.

“We’re still trying to imagine how the bookstore is getting a renovation, bringing it to the digital age,” said Shepard. “There will be something else for the ground floor of the bookstore in the coming year.”

Shepard said community feedback will be taken into account as the final decisions are made. “What we heard … were calls for more collaborative space, so we’re working now on what the programming will look like for that space.”

Shepard confirmed that by the summer, the plans for the ground floor of the bookstore should be more concrete, hopefully in time for the next academic year.

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