Howard Johnson, the former CEO & Chairman of Starbucks is credited with creating the world’s largest cafe chain. However, he did not start-up this venture. Rather, in 1982, he acquired Starbucks at Seattle’s Pike Market Place, where the original owners had a wholesale cum retail division selling roasted coffee. Howard then converted the model to a dine-in cafe format and the rest is history.
However, it was a group of three founders Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl who originally set-up Starbucks in 1971. Zev was the first employee and served the start-up as it’s Director for a decade, when it was acquired by Howard & his investors.
Last week, Zev was in India to speak at the Global Investors Meet 2022 at Bangalore where Prime Minister Modi addressed the gathering through a video conference. Zev wanted to visit and explore local cuisine and the Indian team at Starbucks took him to a few places, noted among which was Vidyarthi Bhawan. The popular restaurant was set-up over 8 decades ago. As there was a popular school nearby and the students used to visit the place, the eatery thus got its name. The place has been a popular hangout for the past 40+ years and has the whos’-who of Bangalore as past and present customers including former Chief Ministers, politicians, film actors & popular personalities.
Arun Adiga, managing partner of Vidyarthi Bhavan told the media, “On Thursday morning we heard from the organisers of Global Investors Meet that Starbucks Co founder Zev Siegl wanted to taste and explore some local cuisines in the city and that he is coming down to Vidyarthi Bhavan to experience the same. Unfortunately I couldn’t meet him because I was in Jammu, but I was coordinating the preparations for his visit from here. It was my father who welcomed him to the hotel.”
It is said that Zev had a masala dosa and small portions of uppitu (Upma) and kesari bath (a traditional sweet). He is also said to have tasted the South Indian Filter Coffee and reffered to it as candy coffee. Zev spent some 30 minutes at the eatery and interacted with the staff, took photos and wrote in the guest book.