While Starbucks plans to expand its reach with 1,500 stores in the United States over the next five years, it is playing safe in India, a national market that has eluded the company for six years. Seattle Weekly contributor Jen Swanson visited Tata Starbucks in Mumbai—the first outlet from the coffee purveyor in the major city—and found good elements mixed with some problematic ones.

A selection of “chicken tikka panini and cheesecakes, a tempting spread of tandoori paneer rolls, and cardamom croissants appeals to India’s predilection for vegetarian foods with spice,” but the wait time took about 45 minutes. Opened since October 19, the flagship has yet to smooth out its service issues.

This is particularly critical as Starbucks tries to gain footing in a market already flush with 2,500 cafes; one chain, Cafe Coffee Day, is a formidable competitor with 1,300 plus stores. The key is to channel a “consistent level of quality product and service—something competitors haven’t done in the past,” says one consultant in the food and retail sector.

[via Seattle Weekly]