Well, it’s actually been in Mumbai for a year and a half now, but it still feels pretty brand new. It’s mixed feelings I have, the few times that I have patronized the cafe. I find that the set up of Starbucks in Mumbai is on a much grander scale; the physical space of each of the cafes is far bigger than the ones in the USA. And every time I step into one of these cafes, it takes me back to a time and phase in my life, where I would sip on hot coffees, warming my soul on the cold and crisp mornings of San Francisco.
It’s amazing how this coffee giant has made its way into India; it has sank its claws into the Indian market, and it’s certainly here to stay. Starbucks is like a magnet, attracting all kinds of people, from all walks of life. After all, it is Starbucks, and it has a pull or should we say, a je ne sais quoi, that makes the nobody and everybody of Mumbai pay homage to this mega coffee chain, at least once in their lives.
Here are some pictures of my recent jaunt at a Starbucks in Bandra:
India’s first Starbucks opened in Mumbai in downtown, on 19th October, 2012. Occupying a magnificent space of 4500 square feet, with two levels, this monolithic structure has class, esthetics, and space! I was there some time last year, and did not feel like I was in Mumbai. The set up was impressive, the service was par excellence, and the ambiance was to die for. Plus, it also helps that this store is located in Old Bombay, a much more prettier and charming part of Mumbai.
What’s fascinating about the Starbucks in Mumbai is the fact that all vegetarian and non-vegetarian products, are kept in different sections, so as to not offend the sentiments of those who are strict vegetarians. Right from sandwiches, to cakes, to rolls, and muffins….if they have meat or egg, they land in one section, and the rest go into another. Very simple and politically correct!
If you ask me about the prices, I think they are on par with the ones in the US, by Indian standards, though some would protest, saying they are on the higher side. Let’s face it, there is no concept of “minimum wage”, and you certainly need a little extra moolah to enjoy the fare at Starbucks. When I was there last, I paid INR 311.00 for a small coffee and a cake (that is about $5.00). Here’s the bill, which is important, as it shows you all the other taxes that go with the original price:
I am fully aware and certain that Starbucks will spread its tentacles into the Indian demographic, hitting all the major cities in India. In Mumbai alone, we have about 15 stores, a significant number for a chain that only launched itself in the Fall of 2011. This muti-million dollar giant will reap in the big bucks; but the good part is that it is providing job opportunities for the locals as well.
It will be interesting to see how this coffee chain’s story unfolds, here in our very land of milk and honey!