Starbucks removed from Forbidden City for Beijing Summer Olympics

On a recent stop to Beijing, our interpreter and guide “Kathy” pointed out that the Starbucks had been removed from The Forbidden City. First of all, putting a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City is like inserting a coffee shop in the Wailing Wall, atop Macchu Pichu, inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, or tucked under Abe’s Beard at Mt. Rushmore. Is nothing sacred? (Fair enough, retail space does exist inside The Forbidden City, including a shop selling “ancient” curiosities and an alleged “last surviving nephew” of the Emperor who hand letters scrolls. But really.) This is clearly all part of Starbuck’s rise and fall: too many Starbucks (in too many places) makes the experience less special. Years ago, Kinko’s founder Paul Orfalea had a conversation about being in an airport and spotting a grossly overweight, generally unseemly character walking down the concourse sporting a Kinko’s t-shirt. Orfalea resisted tearing the shirt off the man’s back and/or offering to buy him something else. But he wanted to. Howard Schultz is probably experiencing parallel emotions as he drives by Starbucks located next to DQs and Cracker Barrels along interstates, as he stands in line at any airport Starbucks watching questionable service, or receives his non-standard caramel macchiato. Starbuckians visiting this summer’s Beijing Summer Olympics need not be afraid. There are still plenty of Starbucks in Beijing, including a very comfy Starbucks next to The Great Wall. Shi shi.