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    Tampa to try on chain's new design

    By JOHN BALZ, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published December 2, 2002

    A new Starbucks is going up just off Fletcher Avenue in the land of office parks. Another one? This one is different.

    From the outside, the store, with its green block letters: STARBUCKS COFFEE, and its circular logo of a sultry siren, seems like all the rest.

    But inside, the layout and colors and countertops and ceiling are all new.

    It's a prototype design called ristretto, which is also a shot of espresso that's stopped before the brewing process finishes, making the drink slightly stronger and more flavorful.

    The Tampa ristretto store on Parkedge Drive near Interstate 75 will be just one of four in the country; others will be in Chicago, New York and Seattle, where Starbucks is headquartered.

    The coffee and the scones will be the same as those served in regular Starbucks, but the setting will be unique.

    The bar will feature a gentle curve instead of a rigid L-shape. Customers will be able to sit at stools. Cash registers will face the front door. The walls are cream-colored instead of the usual maroon.

    The grand opening will be Saturday.

    Last week, it was a plain old construction site full of ladders, orange extension cords and men with beards.

    "And I don't even drink coffee," said Steven Roman, the on-site supervisor, in a red polo shirt and sunglasses.

    "I don't drink coffee either," said Robert Howell, installing the cash registers.

    The ristretto shop's most distinctive feature is its aluminum drop ceiling, which gives the effect of a giant metal wave crashing down upon the customer.

    The sloping silver sheet is tethered to the ceiling by a series of wires, hiding the system's air conditioning vents.

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