Chinle Starbucks opens to long lines


Navajo Times/Cindy Yurth

Starbuck’s customer Cecelia Murray weighs her options on the opening day of the Starbuck’s shop in Chinle.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you know what Navajos really love? Their coffee.

So it was no surprise that word had percolated to the community and the second Starbucks on the rez was already bustling on its first day in business, even if it is located inside a nursing home.

Patrons chose from a limited menu of drinks — sorry, no soy lattes yet — and there was no food, but when the Times visited between 9:30 and 10 a.m., the line rarely got below 10 people.

“I’m very excited,” gushed Melissa Yazzie, who came in with her friend and fellow Head Start employee Abbi Salabye. “I used to look forward to our meetings in Window Rock, just so I could get a Starbucks.”

“Now we can have meetings here!” added Salabye, who was only mildly disappointed the Chinle location does not yet stock her favorite hibiscus tea.

About a quarter of the people in line were employees of the new Guy Gorman Senior Care Home, where the coffee shop is located. A portion of the proceeds will go toward activities for the seniors.

Raenasha Claw, a supervisor at the home, said it’s a welcome addition for the staff. “We’re working 24/7,” she said, “so it’s great to have that kick of caffeine.”

The four barristas were running ragged, but Leandra Tsosie said it was better than the soft opening Wednesday.

“That was rough!” she said while running a capuccino to a waiting customer. “It was just supposed to be for the employees, but someone got on Snapchat and all of a sudden a bunch of people showed up at once.”

The Starbuck’s is open 5 a.m. to midnight just inside the entrance of the new nursing home.

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About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at