'Attention, Starbucks M&A execs'

After Wednesday, any patriot can see there’s only one way to save the American way of government: We have to sell Congress to Starbucks.

Who else can muster the management mojo to make positive things happen even within that pack of snapping pit bulls? Anyone who doubts it should consider Starbucks’ performance last quarter. The coffee giant drove results that seemed to come from a different dimension, and not one with an economic environment parallel to ours.

While bellwether operations like McDonald’s, Darden and Brinker were wailing about the unwillingness of consumers to pry loose a few bucks for a meal, Starbucks coaxed enough patrons through its plate glass doors to boost domestic same-store sales by 8 percent. Remember, the main draw was coffee selling at almost double the price customers would find anywhere else. Yet traffic for the quarter rose 5 percent above the 2012 tally.

The three-month period capped what CEO Howard Schultz declared the best year in Starbucks’ 42-year history. For anyone who might be mathematically challenged, that includes the pre-Great Recession years, as well as the decades when Starbucks was opening stores at an exponential rate.

The real jaw-dropper is how Starbucks did it. One of Burger King’s lures for jittery consumers was a burger topped with French fries to make it special. Take two items on the menu, mash them into one, and price it at a dollar! This was not the first inkling of a Second Renaissance.

Contrast that with some of Starbucks’ moves. It added a line of baked goods—from an actual artisan bakery, based in San Francisco—into markets like New York, Chicago and Boston, where a big ticket would be taken in stride. The baker, La Boulange, which Starbucks bought, has a cult-like following in the Bay Area.

Starbucks upped a sizeable bet on fresh juices by quadrupling production of its Evolution Fresh line. The company said the move would also “significantly increase innovation and distribution capacity.”

And the innovation isn’t ending. A few days after Starbucks’ fourth quarter ended, the company introduced a tea bar to a world that didn’t know a latte from a llama 30 years ago. It’s boldly betting that Americans will similarly embrace a more upscale experience when it comes to tea.

Anyone want to wager against it after seeing last quarter’s results?

So let’s post a For Sale sign on Capitol Hill and get word to Schultz that free doughnuts will be offered during the open house.

Maybe we could throw Obamacare into the deal.


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