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Starbucks opens flagship Chinese reserve in preserved heritage site

Starbucks has unveiled its flagship Reserve store in Tianjin, China. Located in Riverside 66, a Renaissance-style building constructed in 1921, Starbucks says the store reimagines the nearly century-old heritage site.

“Over the past 20 years in China, Starbucks has constantly pushed to innovate and reimagine the Third Place experience, to bring people and communities closer together,” says Leo Tsoi, Senior Vice-President, Chief Operating Officer and President, Starbucks China – Retail.

“We are immensely proud and privileged to preserve a revered piece of history that binds together four generations of Tianjin residents, and to share this rich cultural inheritance with more people, passing it on to future generations.”

Located in Tianjin’s leading commercial street, the building holds a special place in the hearts of local residents as an iconic city landmark that was a witness to key eras in modern Chinese history.

Designed by Shen Liyuan, who was among the first pioneers of Chinese architects to study overseas, it housed the Zhejiang Xinye Bank until the early 1950s. Starbucks says it served as a symbol of the city’s economic prosperity and development.

In the 1980s, it reopened as the high-end Yongzheng Tailor Shop before becoming the Xinye Foreign Trade Mall. The location was officially designated as a city heritage site in 1997 and has been left vacant for the past two decades.

Starbucks says customers can now admire the exquisite craftsmanship and grandeur of a bygone era, which include a majestic Greek style exterior façade and aesthetically breathtaking interior decorations, most notably a glass dome, imported marble columns and marble carvings.

The original bank counters have also been fully preserved, allowing customers a peek into what a bank from a century ago looked and felt like. Bronze tubes were used to ensure that no nails were struck into the columns when lighting was installed.

“Beyond preserving the century old architecture in its fullest form, the Starbucks flagship store has also made creative use of its unique features,” says Luo Shuwei, historian from the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences. “Starbucks partners have shown great passion and dedication to ensure that every design detail is in harmony with the original architectural style, to create a warm and welcoming ambience that is also filled with history.” 

At the centre of the main hall is a U-shaped Reserve Bar, where well-trained, certified Starbucks baristas expertly craft Starbucks Reserve coffees using different brew methods and equipment, such as the Siphon, V60 and Victoria Arduino Black Eagle. Customers can select from some of the more than 250,000 cups evaluated by Starbucks’ team of tasters every year, and roasted with at the Shanghai Roastery.

The flagship store also features Tianjin’s first Bar Mixato and Starbucks Teavana Bar. Starbucks says the latter reimagines a modern tea experience, while demonstrating deep respect for thousands of years of tea tradition. The bar features nitrogen-infused teas and a visually intriguing Steampunk brewing system.

Meanwhile, the store’s Bar Mixato offers more than 30 options of Starbucks Reserve cocktails, wines, and craft beers. Apart from pre-dinner and classic cocktails, the bar also features signature drinks that blend Starbucks coffee and tea flavours.

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