Texas Funeral Home Gets Progressive, Opens Starbucks in Funeral Home

March 28, 2011
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imageMCKINNEY, Texas — Owners of a funeral home in this Dallas suburb who hope to project a more progressive image have taken their customer-service concept to another level: They now sell Starbucks coffee.

Visitors to the mortuary making arrangements for loved ones can now have a macchiato instead of the ordinary cup of joe.

Turrentine Morrow Jackson Funeral Home, a family-owned business that has been operating in McKinney since 1945, opened a coffee shop in February as part of a building upgrade.

“Our clients have been spoiled by Starbucks,” co-owner Terry Turrentine Irby told AOL News. The funeral home staff had always provided free coffee to clients as part of their hospitality, Irby said, but customers were becoming more discriminating in their coffee preferences.

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“They are used to having custom types of coffee. We’ve had customers ask us where the nearest Starbucks was,” Irby said. “We finally felt it would be OK to extend this type of service to our customers. It fits our philosophy of having everything you need at one location.”

Now even regulars from the neighborhood are beginning to stop by for coffee just because they like the atmosphere, Irby said.

The coffee shop does not carry the Starbucks name, but the funeral home owners acquired a license from the company to use its brewing equipment and sell its specialty drinks. The familiar green logo is posted on the coffee menu board that hangs on the wall.

The coffee shop is located in the recently renovated south end of the building next to the gift and flower shops, which are also part of the expansion. The area resembles a tastefully appointed hotel lobby. While there is a display of grave markers near the entryway of the coffee shop, the more sobering reminders of the funeral home — where services take place and the room where caskets are on display — are on the other side of the building.

That was by design, Irby said. “This is the happy environment; here is where customers should be able to find comfort and peace.”

One customer from New Mexico, who was in town to attend her grandmother’s funeral, wasn’t expecting to see a Starbucks-themed coffee shop inside the funeral home. But the familiar green logo was a signal that she was likely to find the vanilla Frappuccino she purchases regularly at the Starbucks in her neighborhood.

“I first thought it was odd,” said Kyla Jeffries, 17, who was seated at one of the tables with a younger sister and cousin as they waited for her parents, who were busy on the other side making funeral arrangements. “But I like it. It’s pretty soothing to be able to have a drink here.”

For employees like Freida Rose, the coffee shop is a far more pleasant venue to relax in than the back room where employees brewed java with varying degrees of success.

“This gives us a choice,” said Rose, part of the clerical staff. “I didn’t used to drink coffee, but I really like this.”

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CDFuneralNews

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