Starbucks opened its first store in Jamaica and entered its 76th market globally.
Located at Doctor’s Cave Beach in Montego Bay, the 1,200-square-foot cafe’s unique design offers a mix of brand elements and local heritage, including a pickled-wood vaulted ceiling and louvered windows.
Fiona Godfrey, an Irish artist who has called Jamaica home for more than 25 years, created a custom mural for the new Starbucks store featuring a lion and a hummingbird.
“Fiona did such a beautiful job on the mural for this store. From the first conversation we had with her, we knew she would be the one to give this store its soul,” said Denise Rodriguez, design manager for the Starbucks store in Jamaica. “The lion is meant to represent the heart and spirit of the Jamaican people. He’s not a fierce or intimidating lion; he’s majestic and mighty but gentle caring, connecting eyes with the hummingbird — or Doctor Bird, as it’s locally called — and embracing her, acknowledging her and respecting her. The hummingbird is not threatened by the powerful lion as they are proudly harmonious, much like Jamaica itself.”
The juxtaposition of the small bird and the majestic lion echoes a popular Jamaican expression —“We likkle but we tallawah” — to express that while Jamaica is a small nation, it has had a global impact across the arts, culture, sports, coffee and more. Godfrey also incorporated Jamaica’s famous misty blue mountains in the background of her mural — a nod to Jamaican coffee. A familiar local greeting of “hail up,” hand-painted by Carlton & Sons Signs and Graphix, a local company, and Sheridan Burgess, a local artist, greets customers as they enter the store, and a well-wishing “walk good” meets customers at the end of the coffee bar.
The color palette of the mural draws from the iconic colors of Jamaica — black, green, yellow and red — with touches of gold and ocher for the lion’s face. Similar gold touches can be found throughout the new store. The coffee bar is covered in walnut panels that feature subtle gold-painted reveals, the back wall’s granite is embedded with delicate gold flecks, and an excerpt from Jamaican poet Reginald M. Murray’s “The Song of the Blue Mountain Stream” is hand-painted in gold, serving as a backdrop for the baristas at the espresso bar.
Franchisee Caribbean Coffee Baristas Ltd., a joint venture between Ian Dear, CEO of Margaritaville Caribbean Group, and Adam Stewart, deputy chairman and CEO of Sandals Resorts International, plans to open up to 15 Starbucks locations in Jamaica over the next 5 years. Following Montego Bay, the company expects to open in Kingston in 2018.