NOT YOUR TYPICAL CAFE
In 2013, founder and CEO, Yusuke Kakimoto developed a unique business model never seen before; challenging the very idea of a typical café experience. The vision for Shiru Café sought to create “a place where students can learn about the professional world and envision their future careers.” The model granted access for university students to utilize the café as a “third campus;” an independent extension to their university. By signing up to become a member, students can enjoy a variety of free gourmet coffees, teas, hot chocolate, espressos as well as locally sourced gourmet pastries at any time, and for as long as they wished. How is that possible you ask? Shiru Cafe is fully sponsored by industry leading companies that advertise their businesses within the cafes. Between commercials, branded cups and literature, these companies have the ability to recruit top university students and prepare them for their careers right in the cafes! If a student wants to learn more about career opportunities, the baristas themselves are trained to connect students with the right tools to resources needed to succeed.
THE U.S. EXPANSION
With over 18 stores in Japan and 7 stores in India, Shiru Cafe has grown from a small start-up concept to an industry leading business in a short seven years. With the company’s great success overseas, Shiru Café came to the US in 2017 to expand its business model and bring the same career opportunities to America’s top university students. Shiru Café sought out Upland Architects as their U.S. house architect, designer, and project manager for their aggressive rollout. Within 3 years, Upland Architects worked with Shiru Café to open locations neighboring Brown University, Yale University, Amherst College with future development plans for cafes near Princeton and Harvard.
While Shiru Café was already established overseas, they entered a whole new ballgame developing partnerships with consultants and vendors here in the U.S. Upland Architects worked closely with Shiru Café to foster those relationships and developed national accounts with vendors such as TriMark, Needham Electric, and National Signs. Upland Architects worked closely with the owners of Shiru Café to make them feel comfortable and knowledgeable with what was a foreign construction process.
Our design team worked closely with Shiru Café to develop a brand identity that catered to the “American student”. Creating unique, casual, and comfortable space was key for this café. Typically, large café brands are designed for a quick guest experience, not lending opportunity for long study sessions. The Shiru Café experience was designed to be the exact opposite, where the architecture promoted students to feel comfortable whether staying for 5 minutes of 5 hours. Our design team started working with Shiru to plan “zones” that catered to different working environments; whether community tables, hidden collaboration spaces, private meeting rooms or quick bar seating, there was a space for every student equipped with power and USB charging. While brand identity was important, the overall esthetic of a café had everything to do with its environment. Whether the café was in a historic old brownstone or a new industrial space, every café blended into its neighborhood and college community uniquely.
PROCUREMENT + STAGING
Aside from construction drawings and project management, Upland Architects provided procurement and staging services for Shiru Café. Our designers’ hand selected unique and custom furnishings and decor for each café through our large selection of vendor accounts providing affordable bulk pricing for our client. Our procurement team sourced and stored all items in our warehouse during construction and staged each café after construction completion. From wall art to menus, lounge furniture, accent tables, millwork, task lighting, and décor, the Upland Procurement Team provided every detail making the cafes come to life!