A major part of many people’s morning routines involves grabbing a coffee at their nearest Starbucks. But for a small community nestled in the Rocky Mountains in northern New Mexico, the idea of a Starbucks breaking ground isn’t something to get excited about.
The construction of the first standalone Starbucks in Taos, New Mexico, has been met with serious backlash since it was first announced earlier this year. And this week, the site suspiciously caught fire for the second time in less than two months.
In the early hours of October 23, a fire was reported at the construction site situated along Taos’s main road. Firefighters arrived at the scene and spent hours fighting the blaze—but it wasn’t enough to prevent the structure from crumbling. “It was fully engulfed,” Taos Fire Chief Eddie Joe Abeyta told The Taos News. “It collapsed into the center.”
The damage sustained from the most recent fire is far more severe than it was after the first blaze on August 30, when only one wall was partially damaged. Investigations for both fires are still underway. No charges have been filed, but the cause of both fires is suspected to be arson.
Mayor Pascual Maestas implied that the fire was intentional in his official response: “We ask that every Taoseño, as individuals, businesses, and those who have public and social media platforms, to strongly condemn what has happened at the Starbucks construction site.” The Taos Police Chief and Starbucks representatives have yet to publicly comment on the incident.
The town of Taos prides itself on its small, independent businesses. Aside from a Walmart, a McDonald’s, and a few major supermarkets, you’d be hard pressed to find a recognizable chain in the center of town. Taoseños are especially loyal to local shops and are reticent to welcome major chains to the community. So it’s safe to assume that a considerable chunk of the county’s 35,000 residents are less than excited to see Starbucks set up shop in town.
Currently, locals are only able to get their hands on a PSL at kiosks inside two of the town’s supermarkets. The first opened five years ago, and the second arrived two years later—both to the chagrin of the local community. “I think it kind of hurts to have a corporate coffee shop here in town,” barista Janet Boccelli told The Taos News back in 2020.
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