In 1987, after Il Giornale acquired Starbucks, we opened our first store outside of the Pacific Northwest. We thought Chicago would be the right place to start our expansion. It had a large downtown area and neighborhoods that needed local gathering places. Plus, it was cold – people would want to drink hot coffee.
But there were obstacles. We were small, and Chicago was 2,000 miles from Seattle – it would be hard to supply the new store with fresh-roasted coffee. The first store opened on Oct. 19, and three more followed soon after.
But we lost money in Chicago – lots of it – until 1990, when a retail expert joined our crew. And a critical mass of Chicagoans began to love dark-roasted coffee. At last, we were on our way to becoming a national company – and in 2019 celebrated our connection to the Windy City with the opening of the Chicago Roastery.