Starbucks to open at Illini Union Bookstore in March

A Starbucks store is set to open at the Illini Union Bookstore in late March. This is the first of three University-operated Starbucks franchises that will open over a three-year period.

Another Starbucks store will open in the Illini Union, said Scott McCartney, senior associate director for retail operations at the Illini Union. The location of the third Starbucks store is yet to be determined, but McCartney said the Illini Union hopes to have a decision within the next couple of months. The three new locations will be University-owned, while the current Green Street location is owned by the Starbucks corporation.

Construction on the IUB-based Starbucks store began in December 2013. The Starbucks store will be located on the southeast corner of the bookstore, and it will include a seating area. 

The coffee shop will be open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, said Rebecca Seymour, assistant director for food and beverage operations at the Illini Union. When IUB is closed, Starbucks’ walk-up service counter in the bookstore’s vestibule will be accessible to students.

The University’s interest in buying Starbucks franchises began after receiving students’ responses from a “College Union/Student Center” Education Benchmarking Inc. survey in November 2012. 

The Division of Management Information sent out the online EBI survey to 3,500 students, and its contents revolved around various food and beverage operations. The students were asked which cuisines they preferred and what specific food vendors they visited for each of the cuisines. The Division of Management Information received approximately 700 responses, and Starbucks was No. 1 in the “Coffee/Drink shops that you would most likely frequent at the Illini Union” category, with Jamba Juice following as second.

“Starbucks was the No. 1 preference by significant margins,” McCartney said. “So we took that information and decided we should try to give students more options on campus.”

McCartney said they use the information from the surveys to help them in selecting which food vendors to offer on campus. For instance, Einstein Bros Bagels was No. 1 in the “Deli/Bakery/Breakfast restaurants that you would most likely frequent at the Illini Union” category, he said.

According to the Illinois Public Higher Education Procurement Bulletin, the University bought the three Starbucks franchise licenses at $30,000 in November 2012. Once the Illini Union decided to to construct the Starbucks stores, they met with the Illini Union Board and discussed different locations.

“It really came down to starting at the bookstore, mainly because that bus stop there is the largest bus stop in Champaign-Urbana,” McCartney said.

Emily Brennan, freshman in Education, and Lara Hanus, freshman in ACES, both said they are excited that another Starbucks store is coming to campus.

“I think it’s a really good location because it’s right off the Quad,” Hanus said. 

Brennan agreed and said it is a convenient place to go to get coffee before or after classes.

The Illini Union Bookstore is in the process of hiring student employees for the IUB-based Starbucks store. It plans to hire around 60 student employees, Seymour said. Students can apply for positions, including barista and shift supervisor, at union.illinois.edu/employment.

Alison can be reached at [email protected]