Starbucks has finally done it. They've torn through the temple of old and opened a flagship store in the center of New Delhi. Not just any center, Connaught Place, the Central Park of New Delhi. Yesterday (Feb. 6), Starbucks Inc. and Tata Global Beverages opened their first Starbucks in Block A of Connaught Place. It is the first in New Delhi proper, with two airport locations, and seven total in the country. See the slideshow for photos of international Starbucks around the globe.
Connaught Place is a hub for shopping that has lost some of its old-world charm since the height of elegance in the 1930s. Perhaps Starbucks will put a new sheen on the gray concrete that is ubiquitous to modern architecture in India. A picture of the new store, with jute ropes and wicker light fixtures, looks a little like something from the international bazaar section at Target or World Market. But in actuality, it was designed and built by local craftsmen using local materials. According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, along the stairway to the top floor, there is a picture of the five craftsmen who designed the decor.
The menu includes murg-makhani pie, a clarified butter and chicken pie; a kebob called a mutton seekh wrapped in roomali-roti flatbread; a chicken and vegetable lettuce sandwich. There is also a street food favorite, reshmi kabab roll with silky smooth blend of almonds, cream and chicken. The lal achari mirch turnover is potato and pickled-red chile sandwiched in a croissant. And for American and British taste, there is a spinach and chicken quiche.
As for beverages, according to the press statement, both tea and coffee will be sold. There is a Tata® Tazo® tea and Indian espresso roast, sourced locally through an agreement with Tata Coffee.
The ritual of tea in India is the foundation of life's most important events. It's nearly impossible to make a business deal, sign a contract, make a new friend, or buy something significant without sealing the deal with a few cups of tea. Nearly 30 years ago, I bought an important peice of jewelry New Delhi, but not before sipping a lot of tea. In a country where the pace of progress is slow, time will tell whether Starbucks will be accepted as the purveyor of something as important as a cup of tea and the setting for something as precious as a life-changing decision.
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