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Houston First unveils a new Starbucks experience in Hilton Americas lobby

Houston • April 2, 2015

HOUSTON – Officials with Houston First Corporation and Hilton Americas-Houston hotel today announced plans to convert part of the hotel’s ground-floor lobby into what is expected to become one of the largest coffee retail outlets in Texas.
Houston First has entered into a license agreement with Starbucks Coffee to sell the Seattle-based company’s products in a 4,000-square-foot footprint in the northeast corner of the hotel.
“This will become an eye-opener for downtown visitors for years to come,” said Ric Campo, chairman of the Houston First board of directors. “And while we have been negotiating this arrangement for more than a year, we are now going to fast-track the buildout phase.
“We hope to be serving coffee in a big way here at 1600 Lamar, inside the Hilton lobby, this coming October,” Campo added.
Hilton Americas-Houston will be one of the first locations in Texas to offer Starbucks Evenings service. After 4 p.m., a selection of wine, beer, appetizer-type food and desserts will be offered for sale.
The deal also allows for the sale of the coffee giant’s new premium product called Starbucks Reserve®, which is available in limited locations in Houston. It is small-lot coffee selected by Starbucks, roasted then delivered to select retail outlets and brewed for individual orders.
Hilton Americas-Houston general manager Joe Palmieri said hotel guests will enjoy all the benefits of this new coffee location and only minimally inconvenienced by its construction.
“While construction will be significant, this will not be a messy teardown or a dusty buildout,” Palmieri said. “It will be business as usual at the Hilton Americas for the next six months.”
Dawn Ullrich, president and CEO of Houston First, said the new Starbucks location will be another amenity to the neighborhood surrounding the George R. Brown Convention Center.
“It is significant that it will have signage on the Hilton façade and exterior-facing doors so that visitors will know it’s there,” Ullrich said. “We are also replacing the glazing on the windows facing Discovery Green. This will allow passers-by on the sidewalk to see the interior of the new Starbucks and create a more interactive pedestrian experience.
“This is the same approach we used when the Pappasito’s Cantina was added at the other end of the hotel with exterior signs and a patio. This certainly benefits hotel guests, of course, but it is also a destination for other visitors, too. We are intentionally working to integrate what is taking place inside the Hilton and the GRB with what is taking place outside.
“We anticipate this inside-outside approach will work seamlessly as we work to create a more pedestrian-friendly environment,” Ullrich concluded.
Presently, the Houston First team is working to attract as many as seven restaurants, cafes and other retail options to the GRB, where they too will be accessible to the public at the street level.