Starbucks Opens Salon For A Short Run In NYC

Ask any beatnik: Coffeehouses have long been meeting houses for poets, artists and other creative types who consider espresso one of the four food groups. So it makes sense that Starbucks, already a meeting place for the laptop-and-lattes set, has opened a coffeehouse of sorts in New York.

For 10 days, Starbucks Salon, at 76 Greene Street in SoHo, is offering free daily performances by 17 artists, both established and up-and-coming. The lineup ranges from "Basketball Diaries" author Jim Carroll to Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, half of the legendary rap duo Run-DMC, to fashion designers from the House of Diehl, performing a show that reportedly "destroys the boundaries between audience and artist through fashion," according to the Starbucks Salon Web site.

Starbucks announced the event through a two-page spread in The New York Times. Sketches of the artists appearing adorned the advertising, and the copy invited readers to visit to add their self-portraits to an online gallery using a tool that renders the images in the style of the print ad campaign. In the first 24 hours, 16,000 people had visited the site, said Christy Salcido, spokeswoman for Seattle-based Starbucks.



The first Salon made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January. However, the New York iteration, running from Sept. 8-17 and timed to coincide with Fashion Week, "is like our big debut," said Salcido.

"Part of the idea is to go to cities with a nomadic, temporary coffeehouse/performance menu and be in major cities where culturally curious audiences are convened for other things," Salcido explained.

The Salon is also a bid for the giant chain (it operates 12,000 stores in 32 countries) to "grow big while staying small," Salcido said. "We always want to be relevant to our customers... we thought it would be fun to recreate the traditional coffeehouse setting."

Starbucks' entertainment team--the same people who select the CDs that Starbucks sells in its stores--chose the talent for the New York salon, Salcido said, adding that the two initiatives are not connected.

Plans for the next Salon have not yet been made. An international venue isn't out of the question. "Our goal is to take it to a global level as well," Salcido said.

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