Despite its status as the world’s largest coffee chain, Starbucks tends to receive less criticism than a lot of other massive corporations. Maybe it’s because the coffee giant and former CEO Howard Schultz have worked to craft a caring image and enacted a slew of genuinely charitable and community-minded projects? Or maybe it’s because people really are addicted to their daily Frappuccino fix? Whatever the reason, there are still some places where opening a new Starbucks can get some flak. A National Park, for instance. The chain is currently at the center of a controversy over opening an outpost at the Yosemite Valley Lodge, a hotel located near the national park’s Visitor Center.
According to the Fresno Bee, Yosemite Hospitality, the division of the massive food service company Aramark that runs the lodge, wants to add a Starbucks to the hotel’s food court. The space is currently undergoing a refurb, and the hope is that a popular international coffee chain might help spruce up the joint. “We are trying to enhance the visitor experience,” Lisa Cesaro, marketing manager of Yosemite Hospitality, told the Bee. “And this is just one of the many improvements we will be making in the coming years.”
However, though many visitors would probably rejoice at the chance to get their favorite Starbucks beverage over some generic Aramark offering, a group of dissenters have suggested that seeing the chain’s green mermaid logo would detract from the rest of the area’s beautiful greenery. As a result, an unnamed “Concern Citizen” from Yosemite Valley launched a petition on the site Change.org last week titled, “Stop Starbucks in Yosemite.”
“Multinational corporations have no place in our National Parks,” the petition states. “The opening of a Starbucks in Yosemite Valley opens the door to further undue development. The Park will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city.” Later, it laments, “This Starbucks development is a glaring slide down a slippery slope.”
Earlier today, the petition passed the 10,000 supporters mark, its original goal. According to the posting, this Concerned Citizen now plans to send all these digital signatures to the Yosemite National Park Administration, Congressman Tom McClintock who represents the district, and California Senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein. Meanwhile, as of late last week, Cesaro said that her group was aware of the petition, but that she didn’t believe it would affect their plans.
Of course, not to take sides, but this whole debate somewhat overlooks the fact that the Yosemite Valley Lodge was already taken over by a multinational corporation when Aramark—who operates “in 19 countries around the world”—took over in 2016. But hey, who wants to rally around an anti-Aramark petition? Where’s the pizazz in that?