Phnom Penh’s first multi-story fitness and beauty center, The Place on Sihanouk Boulevard, is now planning on another first for the city with the opening of an outlet serving Starbucks coffee, which will be called “The Cafe,” according to managers at the center.
Josh Jones, cafe manager at The Place, said that the center is importing Starbucks products but has not bought into the US coffee giant’s international franchise.
Jones said that the Starbucks logo now on The Place’s front window carries a disclaimer categorically stating that The Cafe is not an official Starbucks franchise, and added that The Cafe’s operations are “completely legal.”
“If you buy the product from the company you have the rights to sell and use the brand,” he said.
According to Eddie Tan, general manager at The Place, The Cafe plans to open its doors to the public on April 1 and will sell a mixture of Indochinese and American coffee drinks like the famous Starbucks “frappuchino.” The Cafe will use all the traditional Starbucks methods.
He said he hopes that the demand for Starbucks coffee in Phnom Penh will help him gain access to the company’s franchise in the future.
But Wendy Pang, a Starbucks spokesperson based in Hong Kong, wrote in an e-mail that her company was not aware of The Place’s plans and expressed concern over possible trademark infringement.
Pang said that Starbucks is currently evaluating the full details of The Cafe’s opening.
“Starbucks Coffee International has not made any announcements related to our entry into Cambodia. We are also not aware of any official new store openings in Cambodia and we do not have any immediate plans to enter the market,” she wrote.
Trevor Sworn, a director at Cambodia Brokerage, the company that imports the Starbucks goods for The Place, said he had imported Starbucks coffee beans directly from the supplier in the US and passed the goods on to The Place.