Oddly Enough

Forbidden City coffee shop replaces Starbucks

A Starbucks logo hangs inside its outlet inside the Forbidden City in Beijing January 18, 2007. Beijing's Forbidden City may close down its Starbucks in the face of growing protests that the presence of a U.S. coffee shop in the former imperial palace is an insult to Chinese culture, a newspaper said on Thursday. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

BEIJING (Reuters) - A coffee shop has opened at the heart of the Forbidden City, the former Chinese imperial palace, replacing a controversial Starbucks cafe that was forced out by public protest.

The Starbucks outlet opened in 2000 prompting a media backlash so severe that museum authorities considered revoking its lease after a couple of months. In recent years it had operated without the usual outdoor corporate Starbucks bunting.

A campaign for its closure began building early this year, when a television anchor complained that the U.S. chain’s presence at the symbolic heart of the Chinese nation was trampling on Chinese culture. It finally closed in July.

“With wooden tables and chairs and pictures featuring Chinese culture, the Forbidden City Cafe serves not only coffee but also traditional Chinese beverages such as tea,” the China Daily said.

The rectangular Forbidden City, formally known as the Palace Museum, covers 74 hectares (183 acres) surrounded by a moat to the north of Tiananmen Square and has a fabled 9,999 rooms. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

“Unlike the Starbucks coffee shop, the Palace Museum is the managerial authority of the cafe,” Li Wenru, deputy curator of the Forbidden City was quoted as saying.