Saturday, February 27, 2021

New Starbucks opens in Whitefish

Daily Inter Lake | February 3, 2021 1:00 AM

If you ever had hopes of stopping by a Starbucks coffee shop that isn’t bustling, now’s the time. The new Whitefish Starbucks opened Jan. 26 along U.S. 93 South, and Manager Torri Larsen said the cafe hasn’t been overwhelmed with customers just yet. But she doesn’t expect that to last.

“We’re definitely going to get really busy,” Larsen predicted.

The coffee shop has been highly anticipated.

Larsen moved to the Flathead from Missoula in March with plans of running the new Whitefish location, but the pandemic and construction delays meant it would be almost a year before she actually got to work.

She said the original goal was to open the new site in October 2020, but those plans got bumped to December. Then it took another month before the coffee finally started pouring at the Whitefish Starbucks last week.

The Whitefish Starbucks still isn’t running at 100%, although the drive-thru is open and visitors can order to-go drinks inside the café. But indoor seating isn’t available just yet as a health and safety precaution, and neither is the outdoor patio until the weather is warmer.

Larsen said it’s unclear when they’ll get the green light for customers to enjoy their drinks inside the café, but she’s excited the new location has lots of space for visitors when that day comes. She is hopeful Starbucks eventually may bring in live music to the Whitefish space.

The café started off with 27 employees, and Larsen said they will continue to hire more staff as well.

Even though there’s already a Starbucks location inside the recently remodeled Safeway grocery store just north of the new standalone café, there still seems to be plenty of interest in the Seattle chain’s newest addition to the Flathead Valley.

“Everyone’s been really excited,” Larsen said.

She can tell because the ultra-modern new Starbucks uses a camera in the drive-thru so customers can communicate remotely with the staff inside the café. The new technology is a feature of all newer Starbucks’ establishments, Larsen explained, to make the drive-thru more accessible for hearing-impaired customers.

The camera, as well as the digital menu boards that will be installed inside the café, are the first of their kind at any Starbucks in the Flathead, she added.

The Starbucks at 6405 U.S. 93 will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.