Sunday 19 November 2017

'It's about choice' - Independent coffee shops in Cork give away free drinks following Dublin's Starbucks' protest

Starbucks logo (Stock image)
Starbucks logo (Stock image)

Sasha Brady

Following a similar protest in Dublin last week, independent coffee shops in Cork have given away free drinks to its customers to protest the rise of the number of Starbucks in the city.

Last Tuesday, some independent coffee shops in Dublin gave away free drinks to its customers following the announcement that a new Starbucks is to open in Temple Bar.

The protest was repeated in Cork yesterday as independent cafés gave away free coffees to encourage customers to focus on independent retailers.

It started off with Farmgate Cafe who ran their offer between 10am and midday, they passed the baton on to Electric Cafe and finally Rocket Man Salad Bar closed off the day with free coffees between 4 and 6pm for workers on the commute home.

It's no coincidence that one of Cork's best restaurant's, Farmgate Cafe, is located upstairs in the English market.
It's no coincidence that one of Cork's best restaurant's, Farmgate Cafe, is located upstairs in the English market.

Rebecca Harte of Farmgate told Independent.ie that customers were "quite tuned into the politics of it".

"It was a very positive affair," she said. "We wanted to respond to the global reach of a brand who appear to be rolling out cafes in quite an agressive fashion.

"We used the free coffee offer as a springboard to bring the focus back on small, independent business and look at the socio-economic networks involved."

Ms Harte said she is not anti-Starbucks but she is in favour of choice.

"The real discussion around here is: how do you give customers choice? When you have, in a small city like Cork, three Starbucks within a three-minute walk from each other - when you swamp a high-street or town with these global chains - you're tipping the balance.

"Smaller businesses give that unique character to a town or city. Those of us coming out of the recession who survived, we really need to mind our businesses. We want to be here."

She added: "When you see vacant properties in town, you want to see young entrepreneurs take these shopfronts. You want to see them have a chance to make a business and a life that won't be snapped up like a corporate brand such as Starbucks."

Starbucks first arrived in Ireland in 2005 with a location in Dundrum Town Centre, Dublin.

Now the multinational café chain has upwards of 73 shops across Ireland. And growing.

52 of those outlets are based in the capital. Nine of them are in Cork with three currently located in the city at 11 St Patrick’s Street, 39 Princes Street and 11 Emmet Place.

According to the Evening Echo, Cork City Council has ordered Starbucks to cease the unauthorised use of the location on Patrick's Street.

The Council set a June 29 deadline but the location continues to operate as a coffee shop.

The latest Starbucks store opening is planned for Crompton's Square in Temple Bar after Dublin City Council granted planning permission for change of use of the basement and ground floor at the premises from office to cafe.

Ciarán Hogan of the Clockwork Door on Wellington Quay organised last week's protest in response to this.

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