Over the past several years, Starbucks has released a series of highly coveted mugs, each one depicting brightly colored, stylized versions of cities, landmarks and countries. The popularity of the “You Are Here” collection says there’s nothing like drinking your morning Pike Place roast while you look at a tiny, illustrated Alamo, a Waikiki beach or the Colorado mountains. But drinking your morning Pike Place roast while you look at the real-life Yosemite National Park? That’s going too far, according to some.
A week ago, Yosemite Hospitality, the Aramark subsidiary behind the food and beverages sold in the park’s food court, casually revealed that its upcoming renovation might bring Starbucks coffee in the Yosemite Valley Lodge. Although Yosemite Hospitality clarified that, no, it would not be a freestanding store, some people are uncomfortable with the idea of that ubiquitous mermaid shoving her way into our national parks.
“I worry that this will set a precedent that will allow the concessionaire to essentially rent out spaces to other major corporations,” Freddy Brewster, a Yosemite-area local, told the Fresno Bee. “If this is approved I am concerned that it could lead to a grocery store sponsored by Walmart or a Mountain Shop that will turn into a satellite REI. This could start a trend that has already seen the introduction of corporate sponsors like Budweiser, REI, and Subaru for the [National Park Service].”
Brewster isn’t alone. In the days since Yosemite Hospitality’s announcement, more than 18,000 people have signed a Change.org petition opposing the plan. “Nature needs to stay natural,” one protester wrote, while another added “John Muir would roll in his grave.”
Despite the near-unanimous irritation at the very idea of this Starbucks, Aramark says, sorry, but it’s happening. The petition is not an accurate representation or reflection of what is being planned. The Starbucks offering will occupy existing space,” Aramark told MUNCHIES in a statement. “The new Base Camp Eatery, as it will be called, will offer park guests new and upgraded food experiences, services and amenities, including the Starbucks offerings. It’s worth noting, Starbucks has a long track record of and deep commitment to social and environmental impact, which we believe will benefit Yosemite National Park.”
Come on, Starbucks. Maybe just draw Yosemite on the side of your next “You Are Here Mug” and call it a day, yeah?