Don't screw around with a Miamian's right to enjoy a cup of café cubano, or you're likely to find yourself in hot coffee.
That's the message loyal customers of Pinecrest Bakery had for the Starbucks on 6603 S. Dixie Hwy. when the South Miami location of Pinecrest Bakery, a small Cuban pastry chain, posted a sign stating it would no longer serve coffee because the Starbucks that shares the same strip mall was prohibiting it from selling its café cubano. The debacle began at the end of May. The bakery's lease prohibits it from selling espresso drinks so as not to compete with the Seattle-based java giant.
The poster stated, "Starbucks says no coffee for Pinecrest Bakery," which amounts to "not even 10% gross for us." The sign also invited patrons to comment on the Starbucks Facebook page. Dozens of angry (and hilarious) comments were posted on the page. One review states:
"What a shameful act!!! You dicks are just an example of a corporation that tries to steal a cultures essence and try and repackage it as part of something you own. Think about that next time you try and rape a culture, to claim something as your your own that has been part of our culture (implied in the name) is disgusting. Where was Starbucks during the Revolutions in Cuba? Where was Starbucks during the Bay of Pigs? Where was Starbucks during the Mariel boat lift? Where were you dicks when my family had to leave their home land and rebuild in this one? Way to try and squeeze the life out of a small local business, not surprised at all by the actions of a company buried deep behind Liberal territory!!!"
Another points out the obvious fact that eating a pastelito without the proper beverage is unthinkable:
"Please return the cafecito to the Pinecrest community. You do not even brew the same kind of coffee. Forcing people to eat a pastelito without a cafecitio is just evil."
Pinecrest Bakery patron Chanelle Costa Fleites was livid when she heard the news. "Basically, I thought someone was playing a joke on me. When the lady at the bakery said she couldn't sell me Cuban coffee, I was in denial. Cuban coffee is part of our culture whether you're Cuban or not. I took it very personal. To me, it was like I was in a communist country. I grew up with my grandparents owning a Cuban cafeteria, coincidentally, and I thought about if they still had their business and a corporate giant started bullying them. I took it very, very personal."
Fleites then started a petition on Change.org demanding the Seattle-based chain stop bullying Pinecrest Bakery:
STARBUCKS suing to prohibit CAFE CUBANO in a CUBAN BAKERY?! I stop at my usual, Pinecrest Bakery (US1 & 67 Ave), to get cafe con leche before going to the office. Only to find out that the Starbucks in the same shopping center (6603 S. Dixie Hwy, Miami, Fl 33143) has sued them and they are prohibited from selling CUBAN COFFEE!!! They are still allowed to sell American coffee. This is outrageous! A family-owned Cuban bakery that can't sell Cuban cafe. Where are we?! This has got to be the most ridiculous thing I've heard in Miami! No Cuban bakery should be prohibited and BULLIED from selling Cuban coffee. You cannot compare Starbucks & a Cuban bakery. It's not apples-to-apples. You want American coffee you go to Starbucks, you want Cafe Cubano you go to a Cuban bakery/cafeteria. It's like if McDonalds sued BK for selling the Whopper. This Starbucks has lost a Cuban customer!! #outraged #givemeabreak #starbuckssouthmiami #lostacustomer #starbucksisabully #supportyourlocalbusinesses Starbucks needs to stop bullying local businesses, especially those that are not competing with what they are selling (i.e. Cuban Coffee). Let's put a stop to this.
The petition received nearly 1,000 electronic signatures — apparently enough to turn the tide on the Starbucks feud. The coffee giant has since lifted the ban on Pinecrest Bakery's sale of Cuban coffee, although neither Starbucks nor Pinecrest Bakery wanted to comment about the coffee debacle.
New Times called the Starbucks location, where a cheerful woman answered the phone and identified herself as the store manager. Asked to comment about Pinecrest Bakery, her tone changed and she issued a stiff "We don't talk about that issue" before the phone went dead. Pinecrest Bakery also remained tightlipped on the subject. "We're not talking about that," the manager said after numerous attempts to reach anyone at the store for comment.
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Whether the reason behind Starbucks reversing its Grinch-like coffee decision was the petition, the oftentimes hilarious Facebook reviews, or something else, Fleites is happy she can continue to get her daily caffeine fix at Pinecrest Bakery. "I'm glad everything worked out. The bakery can now sell coffee. They want to be a friendly neighbor. At the end of the day, they're not competing with Starbucks."
Fleites, who works as an executive assistant, also used the incident as a learning tool for her son. "I didn't know how much impact social media could have until now. I've gotten responses from Spain, the UK, Australia, and Canada. It's crazy. This shows you that when you live in a free country, you can express yourself and be heard. I have a little boy, and he's been following the story with me."
In the end, there are two lessons to be taken away from the incident: Bullying, in any form, is not nice, and never get between a Miamian and her cafecito.