Starbucks to Claim the Crown of Largest Global Restaurant Chain?
To the casual observer, the proliferation of Starbucks may seem an overnight occurrence. In point of fact, Starbucks has been operating for over 40 years. Founded in 1971 amid Seattle’s Pike Place Market by two teachers and a writer, Starbucks purportedly lifted its iconic name from Melville’s Moby Dick. Initially, Starbucks only sold beans and coffee equipment but picked up steam after being purchased by Howard Schultz.
While working as Starbucks’ director of retail operations and marketing, Schultz went on a bean-purchasing trip to Italy in 1983. There he was inspired by Milan’s espresso shops and resolved to import this form of coffee culture to America. After parting ways with Starbucks, Schultz opened his cafe chain, Il Giornale, in 1985. These cafes were so successful that Schultz purchased Starbucks in 1987, whereupon he rebranded the Il Giornale locations into Starbucks, and the rest is history.
Since then, Starbucks began popping up across North America. The company completed its initial public offering in 1992 and opened locations outside of North America in 1996. By the mid-2000s, Starbucks was opening between two to six stores globally per day. However, the economic crisis of 2007-2008 strained consumers’ finances and subsequently crippled Starbucks. In one year, Starbucks closed over 600 U.S. locations and laid off over 12,000 employees. Schultz believed that the chain had lost touch with its clientele during its frenzied growth and considered it cheaper to reinvest in them rather than lose them.