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Starbucks to open its first British drive-thru

09 April 2008 by

Starbucks has said that it will open its first British drive-through coffee house some time in May.

Although the international chain said last year that it had chosen Cardiff as the site for its pilot, nothing was then heard from the giant operator for some time, and the first British drive-through coffee bar was opened by a rival operator in Thurrock during the winter.

The site of the Starbucks development has now been confirmed as Dunleavy Drive, which is a development area that includes a business park, retail park, and the Cardiff International Sports Village, a giant undertaking which the Welsh Development Agency has called "the UK's most exciting regeneration project".

Starbucks has said very little about the new venture, and it is only known that the new site will be a combination of a drive-through service and a seated area, which will handle around 100 customers.

The first British drive-through café was opened by Matt and Karen O'Halloran of Islandrive at a retail park in Thurrock just before Christmas. Their venture was unique in that it used not a bricks-and-mortar building, but a custom-built "pod" which was built elsewhere and craned into position.

"The British public are savvy and want to experience a wholly new branded offer that ticks all the right boxes - ethically sourced, natural and organic ingredients, cool image, exceptional taste and all at a reasonable price," said Matt O'Halloran at the time.

His site also combined a drive-through and a sit-down café. "We are as intrigued as everyone to know which point of sale will do best and we note from independent operators in the USA that where a drive-thru option exists, some 70% of their sales goes through it," he told Coffee House magazine.

Starbucks has made no comment in response to practical questions concerning the staffing and operational practicalities of drive-up coffee service. Typically, it was Starbucks which invented the "vente", the 20oz drink, or a pint of hot coffee, which might be thought impractical for serving through a car window to a mobile consumer.

By Ian Boughton

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