Over the past two weeks, there’s been a pretty loud kerfuffle over the proposed addition of a Starbucks to Yosemite National Park. The Fresno Bee — which wins the prize for most adorable newspaper name ever — reported on January 4th that Starbucks won the contract to be installed in the food court that’s currently being remodeled in the park. Online activists took umbrage with an international brand like Starbucks coming into the park and started a Change.org petition to stop it.
The petition reads, “multinational corporations have no place in our National Parks. The opening of a Starbucks in Yosemite Valley opens the door to further undue development. The Park will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city.”
Before we go on, let’s get some facts straight. What’s actually happening is that Aramark — a massive international, multi-billion dollar hospitality corporation — won a 15-year contract back in June of 2015 to revamp the aging food and lodging infrastructure of our National Parks and usher in a more sustainable 21st century.
That contract with the National Park Service included revamping a pre-existing food court in Yosemite to modernize it and bring more efficiency to the place. As part of that remodel, Aramark subcontracted Starbucks to take over the coffee shop element of the food court, replacing the Peet’s Coffee that many US parks currently have.
Reading through the Change.org petition and the comments and there’s no mention of Aramark. The comments — or “reasons for signing” — on the petition are clear. They don’t want a multi-national corporation like Starbucks anywhere near our national parks.