Why Starbucks Is Opening More Pick-Up-Only Locations

With an inviting atmosphere and cozy vibe, it's easy to spend an afternoon at Starbucks, sipping a macchiato and reading a good book. But fans might have to start taking their coffee to go — at least at certain locations. According to Market Realist, Starbucks has recently unveiled plans to open more pick-up-only locations, and the reason why might surprise you.

Efficiency is one of the factors driving innovation in the service industry, which is why many chains are introducing digital ordering and dining-free models to better streamline service (via QSR). While encouraging customers to spend time at their locations has been the foundation of Starbucks' success, times are changing, sparking the presence of the pick-up model.

It's true that pick-up-only locations aren't an entirely new concept to Starbucks. In fact, Forbes outlines that in 2019, the coffee chain opened its first pick-up store in New York City's Penn Plaza, designed for customers on the go. However, the same isn't necessarily true of these new pick-up-only locations.

Safety concerns have paved the way for pick-up-only

Following several incidents with the public that put the safety of staff at risk, Starbucks announced it would be closing 16 stores across the country, namely in larger cities like Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles (via Business Insider). As a result, a new concept has since been introduced by the chain: pick-up-only locations. Although slightly less inviting, they provide a solution while maintaining employees' well-being.

Like a bare-bones version of Starbucks, The Philadelphia Inquirer describes the new pick-up location — the first being in Philadelphia's Center City — as under 1,600 square feet without public seating or public restrooms, limiting the number of potentially harmful situations that employees may face on a daily basis after one Philadelphia store closed because of suspected drug use in its bathrooms.

With the new location concept swiftly taking shape, Market Realist reports that Starbucks hasn't announced any plans to convert any of its current locations to pick-up-only models. However, it does pose the question of whether or not that will change in the future.