Last year, my local Starbucks location slated to close. Okay, “my local Starbucks” is a joke, since there are five Starbucks within a short walk of my house. Anyway, one of them was put on the closure list.
Instead of closing, however, it shut down for a couple of weeks and has now reopened as 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, “your local coffeehouse.” (Here’s [a Seattle P-I story about the place](http://www.seattlepi.com/local/408407_starbucks24.html), along with [great photos by Josh Trujillo](http://www.seattlepi.com/photos/gallery.asp?SubID=4969&page=1>itle=15th%20Avenue%20Coffee%20%26%20Tea&pubdate=7/23/09).) Among my neighbors, this is going over about as well as a gorilla dressing up in a suit and trying to convince you that he is really human, honest.
To design 15th Avenue Coffee & Tea, Starbucks employees spent months hanging out in the other coffee and tea places on 15th, as well as bars like [Smith](http://www.smithseattle.com/), taking notes. No, seriously. In a related development, I have John Updike peeking over my shoulder right now to see how a *real* independent writer does his thing. (What, John Updike is dead? Okay, maybe it’s Philip Roth.)
I went to check the place out this morning, and I was too impatient to wait on line, but I enjoyed the well-choreographed protest going on outside. There was a guy dressed up as Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and a couple of women in green aprons, welcoming you to “the first local coffeehouse ever on Capitol Hill.” I went in to take a look around, and on the way out, the Schultz-alike asked, “How was the smell? Did we get that right? It was a point of contention down at the main office. I mean the LOCAL office.”
Don’t get me wrong–I don’t hate the new place. I think it injects a needed bit of whimsy into the local coffee landscape. The local places I frequent seem worried. I don’t think they need to be. Authenticity is really hard to fake, no matter how talented your clipboard guys are. Some people don’t care about authenticity, of course, but *those people were already going to the Starbucks.*
Oh, one postscript: the new Fauxbucks serves beer and wine. In 2005, I wrote [an article about drinking beer at coffeehouses](http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/pacificnw09252005/taste.html). In it, I said:
> It will not surprise you to learn that no Starbucks locations serve beer, and a spokeswoman chuckled when I suggested it.
Who’s laughing now?