Monday, February 09, 2009

Starbucks Coming Soon

This headline, "Starbucks Bald in Baden," really grabbed my attention. Not only does it sound hilarious to an English-speaker, conjuring up images of bad haircuts, but a Starbucks coming to Baden this year will make for the third American food chain in this little town of 16,000.

When I moved to Baden in 2006, the only American fast-food chain here was McDonald's. We celebrated the 4th of July there every year for lack of anywhere more special to go. But last year, Burger King moved in a block away from the McDonald's. If I hadn't have been elsewhere during American Independence Day I wouldn't have known which establishment to visit. And this year, I'll have the option of celebrating at Starbucks too. A cornucopia of Americana. All within a 5-minute walk of my Swiss front door.

According to the above newspaper article, "Baden is booming." It's apparently become such a town of statue that every American chain can't wait to come here. What an accomplishment.

However, my 74-year-old neighbor is not really seeing the Starbucks thing as an accomplishment. And I'm not surprised. Most of the American chain clientele in Switzerland appear to be Swiss teenagers who have not yet become price insensitive and willing to pay five times the price of something for the sole reason that it is Swiss.

It makes me wonder, though, what will become of the Caffe Spettacolo and other coffee shops that line the main street. Will they go out of business or will the Swiss continue their loyalty to Swiss establishments? And does Baden really need ten coffee shops? ( After all, it's got about that many shoe stores.)

The only good thing about Starbucks is that their entire menu is in English. If you even try to Germanize it when you order, you'll get blank stares from the cashiers. But then again, who can translate a Tall Arabian Mocha Soy? That's not English. At least the English I used to know.

Perhaps Starbucks is threatening more than just Baden. It's threatening our entire language as we know it. Just wait until all these Europeans go around the U.S. after hanging out at Starbucks thinking they're ordering in English. "Don't you get it?" they'll say to a waitress at Applebees in L.A., I said I want a "Tall Coke Light."


cadiz12 said...

I hope you don't lose those genuine Swiss establishments, that would be a pity.

When I was in Spain, the only people who when to McDonald's were Spanish youngsters, the American study-abroad boys who showed up promptly at six p.m. to "check out all the hot girls," and anyone who wanted a soft-serve ice cream cone for 50 pesetas.

Chantal said...

That's funny. Yeah, luckily for Switzerland, its population is generally very loyal to Swiss establishments and products. So I think I'll be fine.

' said...

Ran across your blog while was looking for the link I'm pasting below of my son yodeling Alpine style in an Arkansas Starbucks.

Still not so sure they need our Starbucks over here, although the Balzac's in Berlin seemed identical.

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