ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As a crowd gathered for a peek inside the city’s newest Starbucks on Monday morning, a pair of young women sat down at a table and surveyed their surroundings.
“This place,” one said to the other, “is so big.”
In a sea of new Starbucks cropping up around Albuquerque, the just-opened cafe along 12th Street has the distinction of being the largest. In fact, at almost 5,000 square feet with the patio, it is the biggest Starbucks anywhere in New Mexico, according to the project’s developers. It can seat an estimated 175, including about 75 outside and up to 14 in its community room.
But sheer size is just one of the cafe’s distinguishing features. It is also the only stand-alone Starbucks licensed to a Native American-owned company in the country — it is locally owned and operated by New Mexico’s 19 pueblos and sits on what was once the Albuquerque Indian School grounds near Interstate 40.
So though it bears one of the world’s most recognizable brand names, it doesn’t look like the other 23,000-plus Starbucks around the world. It features two kiva fireplaces, a wall of historic pueblo photographs and commissioned artwork like a painting from Laguna’s Marla Allison and a series of hand-crafted pieces of pottery designed in the shape of a Starbucks travel mug.