Starbucks is closing its Princi bakeries

The move comes as the coffee giant focuses on drive-thrus and convenience, rather than its higher-end offshoots.
Princi bakery
Photo courtesy Starbucks

Starbucks is closing its three standalone, high-end Princi bakeries in the U.S., a spokesman for the coffee giant confirmed Thursday.

The last day of operations at Princi locations in Chicago and Seattle will be Sept. 3. The Princi bakery in New York City had never reopened since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

The closures are part of a “strategic look at the Starbucks Reserve business,” the spokesman said, adding that Princi products will continue to be sold in the six Starbucks Roastery locations around the world, as well as in the handful of Reserve units in the U.S. There are no current plans to build more roastery units, he said.

“The Princi brand will still be alive and well,” the spokesman said.

Starbucks has been an investor and global licensee of Princi since 2016. The brand was founded in Milan by artisan baker Rocco Princi in 1986. He expanded to five more bakery locations across Milan and London before joining forces with Starbucks.

Starbucks opened its first standalone Princi store in Seattle in 2018, with a design modeled after the Milan locations. The Seattle Princi featured fresh baked goods throughout the day, including focaccia sandwiches, pizza, tarts and other desserts. The Chicago and New York locations soon followed, all also serving alcoholic beverages from the on-site Bar Mixato.

“The standalone Princi store makes Seattle the first city in the world to offer the full suite of experiences from Starbucks Siren Retail business, dedicated to its premium Reserve brand, which includes a Reserve Roastery, a Reserve store, Starbucks stores with a Reserve coffee bar, and now Princi standalone stores,” the Seattle-based chain said in 2018.

The Princi openings came a year after the chain put an end to its “Starbucks Evenings” program, which served served beer, wine and small plates at hundreds of stores after dark.

In 2017, Starbucks pulled the plug on its small Evolution Fresh cold-pressed juice chain, and in 2015, the company exited its La Boulange bakery business.  

The pandemic has accelerated Starbucks’ focus on convenience, with a move toward more drive-thrus and less emphasis on its shops as a “third place” for community gathering. Drive-thrus now represent 75% of total U.S. sales, the chain revealed last month.

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