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After 27 Years On Mag Mile, Crate & Barrel To Be Replaced By Huge Starbucks Roastery

By Stephen Gossett in News on Apr 26, 2017 2:47PM

Starbucks Roastery (Photo: Business Wire)

It's official. After nearly three decades on the Magnificent Mile, the Crate & Barrel flagship store will be sailing out, to be replaced by a ginormous Starbucks Roastery.

The Roastery—a massive operation that will span the building's four levels and 43,000 square feet—will be a spectacle showcase for on-site production and consumption, spotlighting assorted brewing methods plus the coffee giant's upscale-aiming Reserve line. You can expect a coffee bar and food from Italian baker Rocco Princi. Executive Chairman Howard Schultz described it as "the Willy Wonka of coffee," to the Tribune. The newfangled java blowout will open at the Mag Mile location (at the southwest corner of Michigan and Eerie) in 2019, the company announced on Wednesday.

As for Crate & Barrel, the Chicagoland-based retailer's future on the Mile has long been in doubt. Suspicion was cast anew last week after the Tribune reported that Starbucks had designs on the massive Michigan Avenue space. It took some time for the Chicago-founded, Northbrook-based home-goods staple to recover from the recession; and retail experts had floated that the building's owner could get more from its lease than what Crate had been paying. Terms of the Starbucks lease were not released.

Interestingly enough, Crate & Barrel co-founder George Segal actually owns the iconic building, which was built in 1990, back when he still owned the company. (He sold majority stake in 1998, and the German company Otto Group became full owner in 2011). According to the Trib, Schultz had brought Segal to Seattle to show off the first Roastery sometime after Segal sold Crate. Even after his sale—and what sounds like subsequent wooing—Segal made a return-of-sorts to Crate, providing counsel amid leadership turmoil in 2014.

Crate & Barrel did not immediately return a request for comment, but reps told the Tribune that there are no plans to open another Chicago store nor leave it's other location within the city, in Lincoln Park, near North and Clybourn. It's not clear if employees will be offered re-location options.

The Roastery will be Starbucks' third in the States. The Seattle spot opened in 2014, and a New York City Roastery is set to open next year.

"Chicago is a city of neighborhoods, so we took our time to find an incredible space to match the unprecedented coffee experience our premium Roastery will offer," Schultz said in a release. "To be located on one of the best-known retail streets in the world is a proud moment for all of us and we can’t wait to bring Chicago and the world a coffee experience worthy of their most premier real estate.”