I’ll Have a Grande – and a One-Way Ticket to St. Gallen

This Thursday will see the maiden voyage – right on time at 6:36 a.m. – of Starbuck’s innovative new venture: a fully functioning café on board a moving train.  The double-decker car, which seats 50 comfortably, will be traveling from Geneva Airport to the city of St. Gallen, and is the end result of a unique partnership with Swiss Federal Railways.

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Passengers on the car’s entry level will be greeted by Baristas, who will serve from either behind a sleek wooden bar or directly at patrons’ tables.  Seating is ample; an intimate lounge adorns the car’s top floor, which features larger booths, individual tables, and several standing bars.  Starbuck’s signature color palette – dark browns, light beiges, creams – gives the room a warm ambience, made all the more hospitable by elegant lamps planted at each window.

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The creative team had to overcome several unique design and engineering obstacles – cup holders, anyone? – to pull this feat off.  Tables have textured, grooved surfaces, to prevent the unexpected jolt from spilling beverages; customers on the top floor have table-service, a great way to prevent unnecessary foot traffic; seating has been arranged such that the first floor intuitively serviced passengers on board for a shorter journey – hence more stand-only bars.

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Starbucks has always demonstrated a singularly innovative capacity to reach customers – this venture is no different.  Essentially a mobile pop-up shop, the car’s also a traveling billboard, and with not much else to do on board, we’re guessing it’s going to be pretty crowded.

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