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Starbucks to open a cafe inside a Publix store in Tampa

The Publix store in the Gandy Shopping Center will be among the first in the chain to get a Starbucks inside.

A cafe that already exists inside the Tampa Publix store will be replaced by a Starbucks, said Brian West, spokesman for the Lakeland-based grocer. The Starbucks cafe in Publix will operate in a similar fashion to those shoppers see in stores like Target, Safeway or even some Macy's stores.

It is unclear at this time when the Starbucks will open in the Publix store in Tampa. More Starbucks are expected to be rolled out at other Publix stores as part of the pilot program.

"We're excited for the opportunity to begin testing Starbucks in our stores," West said. "It will be a great enhancement to the shopping experience for our customers."

The cafe will be staffed by Publix employees, though they will receive the same barista certification and training as any other Starbucks employee, a Starbucks spokesperson said in an email.

The move by Publix to add an amenity like Starbucks to its stores comes at a time when the Florida grocer is facing more competition than ever. Safeway made its debut in Florida earlier this year by opening three stores, including one in Largo. That store also has a Starbucks cafe inside. Lucky's Market is scouting sites in Tampa Bay. The organic grocer allows shoppers to sip beer, wine and other beverages from its in-house cafe while they shop. Some Whole Foods Markets are debuting wine and craft beer bars in their stores as well.

Contact Justine Griffin at jgriffin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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