First axe-tossing, now frappuccinos: Gateway One Plaza is getting a Starbucks

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Starbucks construction site at Gateway One Plaza, June 27, 2018. — photo by Paul Brennan

Construction has begun on a Starbucks at Gateway One Plaza. It is the second new business this year for the strip mall at the corner of Highway 1 and Riverside Drive. Hatchet Jack’s, Iowa City’s first axe-tossing bar, is currently in the final stages of construction and will open soon.

The new store will be the fifth Starbucks in Iowa City, and the chain’s second stand-alone location in the city.

Even without Starbucks, there’s no shortage of coffee shops in Iowa City. There are at least two grounds (High Ground Café and Fairgrounds Cafe), two Bill’s (Uptown Bill’s Coffee House and Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop) and a multiplicity of houses (The Java House has 10 Iowa City locations), among many other options. But none of that abundance of caffeine is located near the new Starbucks.

The closest coffee-serving competitors for the new store will be Arby’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Village Inn. Whatever the other charms of those places, they all lack drinks ending in –chiato and –uccino.

The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971. One the store’s three founders, Gordon Bowker, told The Seattle Times the first store was originally going to be called the Cargo House, “which would have been a terrible, terrible mistake.”

“Terry Heckler [with whom Bowker owned an advertising agency] mentioned in an offhand way that he thought words that begin with “st” were powerful words,” Bowker said. “I thought about that and I said, yeah, that’s right, so I did a list of ‘st’ words.”

Working on that list, Bowker came across the name of an old Washington mining town, Starbo. “As soon as I saw Starbo, I, of course, jumped to Melville’s first mate [named Starbuck] in Moby Dick,” Heckler said.

Bowker explained he and his partners liked the sound of the name, but beyond that, Starbucks has nothing to do with Starbuck (whom Melville described as “a long, earnest man… his flesh being hard as twice-baked biscuit”).

From that first Seattle shop, the company has grown to more than 28,000 locations in 62 countries.

The Gateway One Plaza Starbucks is scheduled to open this winter.

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