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Private preview kicks off opening of new Starbucks

Virginia Lozano/Daily
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By Carolyn Gearig, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 20, 2014

Let the caffination begin. Or not, decaf’s fine too.

Starbucks opened its Michigan Union location at a private preview event Monday morning and will host its grand opening Tuesday. The coffee chain joined a host of recent additions including Ahmo’s Gyros and Deli and Au Bon Pain.

Starbucks occupies the space next the Union Courtyard that previously held Amer’s Mediterranean Deli, which closed in May after its reapplication for the space was rejected. The location will serve coffee beverages, sandwiches, baked goods and other items, similar to other locations near campus on South University Avenue and State Street. One unique factor from the other stores, however, is that the Union location will accept Blue Bucks.

Michigan Union director Susan Pile said she hoped the addition of Starbucks — as well as Au Bon Pain, which opened Jan. 7 — will bring more activity into the Union. The two establishments will share a seating area.

“I think they will both be great places to hang out, study, meet friends and gather with student organizations,” she said.

Business junior Michael Proppe, Central Student Government president, agreed, adding that he hoped the two could generate more activity in the Union.

“There are so many student organizations housed here,” Proppe said. “I don’t think a lot of students know the Union outside of the food court in the basement. But these are going to be very popular with a lot of students, bringing them through so they can see the other stuff that’s going on here as well.”

Starbucks will be open from 7 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Sundays and is expected to appeal to late night studiers.

Renovations to the space preserved historic details of the 95-year-old building while making some changes to conform to the traditional Starbucks atmosphere.

Store manager Nikki Beaudry, who has nine years experience working for the company, said she is excited because of the unique location and customer base of a college campus.

“I think it’s a great place to be,” she said. “I love the young atmosphere and I’m excited we can be a place for students to come study and drink coffee, not only students but administrative people and people in the community as well. We’re unique because we’re the first Starbucks ever to be in the Michigan Union, and we’re a little different looking than other Starbucks because we still have that historical feel with a little bit of the pop of the modern Starbucks.”

As a part of its opening festivities, Starbucks will hand out free tall coffees from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesday, and samples of sandwiches, espresso and blended beverages from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Pile said she has high hopes for the coffee chain’s newest location.

“I think food is a really key component in bringing people together,” Pile said. “Coffee in particular helps drive community building which is really what the Union’s all about.”