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Starbucks Builds A Store With No Line

Fast Company: Starbucks calls it an “espresso shot” of a store. It’s just 538 sqft in the heart of Wall Street, and it has no armchairs to sit or power plugs for your laptop. There’s also no line to order. Starbucks claims, anyway.

Instead, the pilot store has been streamlined for the quick in-and-out of commuters on their way to work. Right when someone walks in, they’re greeted at the door by an employee holding a mobile ordering terminal at a small bar. They place their order from a limited menu, then walk to the main counter to pay and pick up their drink.

“It’s a really small space, designed to keep customers moving through,” a spokesperson explains, “so, in theory, there wouldn’t be a line.” (Of course, it’s easy to imagine a line stretching outside the door, or the small space becoming Lord of the Flies In Suits during rush hour.)

The design is a radical departure for Starbucks. When I spoke to the Starbucks vice president of store design, Bill Sleeth, last year, he mentioned that the Starbucks engine—that line where you pass a menu, refrigerator, and pastry case—is key to the Starbucks experience. It’s, in essence, a proven business model, stamped into their store design across thousands of locations in the U.S.

The espresso shot store upends this model in the interest of greater speed and efficiency. And it’s not hard to imagine, as Starbucks launches mobile ordering nationwide this September, fast-food chains of all sorts hewing more closely to Starbucks’s lineless model. Even McDonald’s has teased a future in which you place your order by your phone as you walk in the door, rather than at a counter.

In the meantime, you can find the new store at 14 Wall Street. Starbucks plans to open four more of these espresso shot stores this year in New York.

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