CHINATOWN — You can get a caffeine pick-me-up while visiting Chinatown's shops and restaurants Friday when Starbucks opens a shop in the Jaslin Hotel.
The neighborhood's first dedicated coffee shop will open in the new hotel at 261 W. Cermak Road. Located in the heart of Chinatown at Cermak, Archer and Princeton, the Starbucks will serve hotel patrons as well as commuters walking to the nearby Red Line station.
But the Starbucks also will serve customers that might be new to Chinatown: a young, diverse population and more visitors. With the neighborhood seeing new amenities like the Jaslin Hotel (opened May 2016), trendy restaurants and $60 million in coming infrastructure improvements, it made sense to expand the neighborhood's retail offerings, said Mark Lewis, manager of the hotel and the Starbucks.
"It's something the community needed and wanted," he said. The hotel owners "wanted to bring something to Chinatown that it doesn't have. Something new to Chinatown, but keeping in the Chinatown tradition."
The new Chinatown Starbucks opens Friday at 261 W. Cermak Rd. [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]
Matt Chiu, 26, who opened the Starbucks, has partnered with the hotel's owners, who also are millennials. He said the group polled the community, especially its young residents, and learned that neighbors wanted a coffee shop. Coffee drinks are available at bakeries and bubble tea shops, but there are no "premium" coffee shops, said Chiu, a Chinatown resident.
"Starbucks is a really big name," he said. "Chinatown is growing. Chinatown is an up-and-coming community. It's a status symbol for Chinatown. We're trying to set the standard."
The shop's interior is inspired by Chinese decor, including red and yellow walls, feng shui design elements and art by Chinese-American artists Ruby Wang. Patrons will be able to do some serious people-watching, as large windows overlook the Cermak-Archer-Princeton intersection, with the popular Chinatown Square across the street.
Paintings by artist Ruby Wang hang inside the new Chinatown Starbucks [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]
The project is the culmination of nearly two years of work for Lewis and the owners. Jaslin Hotel already has brought a new amenity to the neighborhood in the form of a cosmopolitan hotel. A Starbucks will open in its most prominent store front, while a bank and a tavern are slated to open in the near future. The tavern in particular will bring a new feature to the community: a western-style bar.
"The owners decided they essentially wanted to develop this block to give the community a really nice retail hub to complement the Chinatown square," Lewis said.
The new Chinatown Starbucks [DNAinfo/Joe Ward]