This is certainly not breaking news to people who live in Wujin, but sweeping changes have come to the Grand Metropolis Mall. This is the shopping center that contains RT Mart and is near an on ramp to the elevated road. Grand Metropolis used to share the building with Golden Eagle, but that high-end store shut down in Wujin around this time last year. In the period between then and now, Grand Metropolis renovated the unused parts Golden Eagle left behind. This means more shopping and dining options. One which appears to be a new-but-forthcoming location of Summer — one of downtown’s oldest surviving western restaurants. This would be the third Summer location in Changzhou that I know of. This new restaurant is set to open after Spring Festival. It also appears that the Grand Metropolis’ Starbucks has been shut down, but the “coming soon” poster plastered over the windows makes it unclear if its permanently gone or just undergoing renovation.
This is a given: Starbucks in America is not the same as Starbucks for China. This is common with any international food chain — just compare the menus of Chinese KFC, McDonalds, and Pizza Hut and their American counterparts. In some ways, it’s interesting to compare how they are different.
In the case of Starbucks, the bake case provides the most stark contrast. In Changzhou, Starbucks display cases look spare, almost bleak. There is a lot of empty space, and some of that space is filled with single rows of the same product. You know? so many peices of the same type of cheese cake sitting next to each other. The baked goods also share space with bottled drinks, sandwiches, and packaged salads. If you go later in the evening, the bake case looks even more empty.
Starbucks in the USA is a different story. Sure, there may be some gaps. However, the most noticable difference is the variety. You don’t have a case sparsely filled by single plates of the similar types of cakes. In America, there are multiple types of cookies, cakes, and pies.
So, it goes without saying. Starbucks in the USA is better. But, that being said, even with the reduced options, Starbucks in Changzhou seems a lot better than the other chains like Costa or Cafe 85. But that’s just my opinion.
As is often pointed out, Starbucks in China is often taken as an economic indicator. As coffee goes, it’s not cheap when compared to Chinese cafes, and Chinese friends sometimes tell me that some people go there more as a fashion statement than for the cakes or the drinks. Going to Starbucks 星巴克 is a way to show off that you have money.
When it comes to Changzhou, I used to think Starbucks were mostly just centralized in denser parts of the city. Hutang in Wujin, the city center, and the greater Wanda area in Xinbei, for example. Well, that’s starting to change. Xinbei just got two more, and they are not near Wanda.
More interestingly, I found one in Zouqu 邹区 . This is a small township in far western part of Zhonglou District. Technically, it’s not in Zhonglou at all, according to Baidu Maps — rather, in one of the oddly contorted norther arms of Wujin. Still, I choose to lump it in to Zhonglou, partly because Qingfeng Park is like five or more kilometers away.
Zouqu doesn’t strike me as “cosmopolitan Changzhou.” It seems far more industrial and developing economically. Its in Taifu Plaza 泰富时代广场, and that seems pretty new. When I stopped in for a cafe Americano and a bacon and egg sandwich, the place seemed empty. But, it was also late morning on a Thursday when most people would be working. To find a Starbucks here is a real indication of the company’s rapid expansion in China in general and Changzhou in particular.
This one is one of three within the Nandajie area proper. Each of them are extremely close to each other in proximity. This one, however, is located at the North Entrance of the Landmark Shopping Center along Yanling Road. The burning question most people have is… does it have a western sit-down toilet? Answer: Yes it does.