Aptly, named “Starboxer,” the cafe serves Starbucks' line of espresso drinks, teas and smoothies. Starbucks cafes have operated aboard carriers for the last several years, but this is the first time a fully functioning coffee shop has opened on a large-deck amphibious assault ship.
"I saw the success of those operations on carriers, and knew that LHDs would be big enough to support an espresso bar,” explained Boxer
’s Supply Officer, Cmdr. Eric Morgan. “Six months later, here we are."
Starboxer had its grand opening while underway off the coast of California in early February. Boxer
collaborated with Commander, Naval Surface Forces, Navy Exchange Command (NEXCOM) Ship Store Program and the Starbucks Coffee Company to aid in the creation of Starboxer. NEXCOM provided Boxer
with an interest-free loan to fund the necessary equipment, and Starboxer profits will quickly repay NEXCOM’s loan.
[caption id="attachment_432" align="alignright" width="300"]
USS Boxer (LHD 4) hosts a ribbon cutting to celebrate the grand opening of Starboxer Café this past February. Pictured (left to right) is Ens. Matthew Kelley, CMDCM Todd Gruchalla, LSSN Thomas Rios, Boxer Commanding Officer Capt. John Gumbleton, SHSN Tyler Ranalli, Boxer Supply Officer, Cmdr. Eric Morgan and Supply Dept. Leading Chief Petty Officer, CSCM Norberto Tayag. (Photo by MC2 Oscar Espinoza)
(center), Commanding Officer of the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) and members of the crew cut a ribbon marking the grand opening of the Navy's first Starbucks inspired coffee shop aboard a wasp-class ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Christopher Janik)
"I worked with Starbucks representatives and several contractors to put this all together," said Lt. Cmdr. Leon Quarles, Boxer’s
Assistant Supply Officer. "We took the basics of Starbucks marketing and applied those principles to the ship."
Starbucks representatives came aboard and personally trained selected crewmembers and certified them as baristas. These baristas are assigned to Starboxer on a rotational, temporary basis. "I'm excited I was picked to work here," said LSSN Thomas Rios, a Starboxer barista. "I think people will be more energized in the morning and will look forward to going to the store before work."
The crew is able to purchase Starbucks signature beverages with their Navy Cash cards at a discounted price over traditional stores. All profits go to the ship’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) fund.
Since Starboxer’s grand opening, lines and profits have been steadily increasing each day. Embarked Japanese and Marine troops were able to partake in the items Starboxer had to offer during Joint Exercise Iron Fist, earlier this month. The response was nothing but positive. “The crew is really excited about it,” said SH1 Keith Cockrell. “The line starts forming at 0530 every morning.”
“It cetainly boosts the crew's morale,” Lt. Cmdr. Quarles emphasized. “We don’t want Sailors to miss the comforts of home while underway.”
For the lucky crewmembers aboard Boxer
, Starbucks brew is one comfort they will not be missing.
By Lt. j.g. Mary Johnson, SC, USNHazardous Materials Officer, USS Boxer
Bio: LTJG Mary E. Johnson graduated from the University of Kansas with a Masters of Education in 2009 and was commissioned a Supply Corps Officer in 2010. BOXER is her first ship. She has served on BOXER as Disbursing, Sales and Services, Material, and HAZMAT Officer.