Why you can't find some menu items at suburban Starbucks cafes

  • A sign posted Monday inside a Starbucks on the North Side of Chicago acknowledges the shortage of supplies.

    A sign posted Monday inside a Starbucks on the North Side of Chicago acknowledges the shortage of supplies. Courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times

  • Suburban Starbucks cafes have a limited supply of menu items because of "misallocation issues," a company spokeswoman said.

    Suburban Starbucks cafes have a limited supply of menu items because of "misallocation issues," a company spokeswoman said. Associated Press File Photo

 
 
Updated 9/6/2019 6:36 PM

Remember the days when you went to a coffeehouse and all you ordered was, well, coffee?

Java junkies have been reliving that bygone era this week at suburban Starbucks cafes with apologetic servers and a depleted supply of menu items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Finding an egg and sausage breakfast sandwich or even a blueberry muffin to go with a cup of joe has proved elusive at the chain's drive-thrus in Carol Stream, Wheaton and Roselle.

At the latter cafe Friday morning, patrons could still order a reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich, but the heartier fare had sold out.

It's not a fluke: Area Starbucks stores have run out of many staples because of "misallocation issues," a spokeswoman for the Seattle-based coffee giant said.

A statement provided by the spokeswoman Friday refuted suspicions the issue stemmed from an impasse in contract talks between DPI Specialty Foods, a Starbucks supplier, and delivery workers represented by Teamsters Local 710.

"Due to some reallocations we made, some orders to select stores ended up having too much product or too little product," the Starbucks statement read. "The local team is working to rebalance supply. We anticipate stores should be returning to normal availability soon. The misallocation issues are not due to a strike. DPI and its drivers continue to deliver product to our stores."

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The Wall Street Journal reported last month that union members at DPI's logistics division voted to authorize a strike but that no action was scheduled. Drivers and warehouse workers also voted overwhelmingly to reject the company's proposed contract, according to a Teamsters statement.

Nearly 300 drivers and warehouse workers have been negotiating a new contract with DPI. Those workers deliver to 900 Starbucks stores in the Chicago area, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Indianapolis, the Teamsters statement read.

"It's pretty clear to us that since DPI's only customer in the area is Starbucks, in the near future Starbucks is planning to move the work away from DPI and to a different company," Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Cales said in the statement. "We think that's why DPI is asking workers to agree to a short-term contract of only seven months, instead of the usual 5-year contract. This extremely short contract is one of the reasons why our members voted it down."

Cales did not immediately respond Friday to a request for further comment. The Starbucks spokeswoman also would not comment on the status of DPI's labor negotiations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"After numerous conversations with DPI over the course of the last year, we determined they do not have the capacity and infrastructure to adequately support our growth in the market," the spokeswoman wrote.

It's unclear if the misallocation issues are widespread. But the Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that pastries and sandwich items were out of stock at a West Loop Starbucks. And a Schaumburg branch last week was regularly out of all its breakfast sandwiches and posted a note on the door referring to the supply problems.

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