Imagine pondering life's big questions and the vastness of nature between sips of a pumpkin spice latte.
What better way to escape the craziness of urban life than by exploring America’s millions of acres of national parks? And what better way to be reminded of our nation's great tradition of ubiquitous corporate chains than by putting a Starbucks smack in the middle of that untarnished beauty?
That's exactly what is in the works for Yosemite National Park, unless the supporters of a recent petition are heard by their local representatives. More than 11,000 people have signed the petition to “Stop Starbucks at Yosemite," which was created by a “concerned citizen” and demands action from the Yosemite National Park Administration.
According to the Daily Meal, the petition was destined for the desks of California congressman Tom McClintock and senators Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein once it hits 10,000 signatures. The outcry may already have proven effective, however, as most of the job postings for the proposed coffee shop have reportedly been taken down, the Change.org page claims.
“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.”
The Fresno Bee reports that the national park’s partner for concessions is global food service company Aramark, and that the Starbucks is part of a food court renovation project called Base Camp Eatery, scheduled to open this spring. “This Starbucks development is a glaring slide down a slippery slope,” the petition adds. “What direction has Yosemite been heading in recent years? Where will this development take the trend? When will it stop?”
But Aramark, for its part, insists that the presence of a Starbucks at a National Park is hardly an affront to nature, and argues that the picture painted in the petition is not in line with what's actually planned. In a statement to MUNCHIES, Aramark shared the following:
"Here’s some information to help put the project in context. It is a privilege to provide visitor services in Yosemite National Park (YNP) and we want to make sure the public understands exactly what is being done at Yosemite Valley Lodge. The petition is not an accurate representation or reflection of what is being planned. The Starbucks offering will occupy existing space. No new structures or free-standing stores are being built as part of this renovation.
As part of our ongoing strategy to enhance the guest and visitor experience at YNP, we are currently working on an exciting project to renovate the food court at Yosemite Valley Lodge. 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.
YNP hosts visitors from near and far, many of whom are international travelers. We are committed to working with the NPS to design and develop programs that offer a wide array of offerings and menu items that will not only resonate with guests, but enhance their overall dining experience. This project is one of the many improvements that we will complete over the next few years, including the recently completed renovation to Degnan’s Kitchen & The Loft at Degnan’s, to enhance the visitor experience and food and beverage offerings in Yosemite National Park. The Base Camp Eatery is expected to open in spring 2018."
Just imagine staring out at El Capitan, wondering if you should quit your job, leave your lover, and move into the woods forever while sipping a Caramel Cocoa Cluster Frappuccino. Ah, the power of escaping it all—sort of—in nature.