NORM had Cheers, Friends had Central Perk, and Officer the mini pig has Starbucks at Creekwood Crossing (Bradenton).
It all started four years ago when Officer was barely a year old. I discovered Starbucks chai tea latte and Officer, who is like my dog and always “bye-be car” with mommy, found out they sell bananas — his favorite!
Mark, the manager at the time, began saving the store’s old bananas instead of wastefully throwing them in the garbage; choosing instead to recycle by giving them to Officer. On starbucks.com, you’ll find that this “environmentally friendly” company is “…working to shrink our environmental footprint and meet the expectations of our customers by increasing recycling…we have long been aware that the planet is our most important business partner.”
Thanks to Mark and the staff at Creekwood Crossing, I can’t roll down my window in the car, or even say Starbucks, without Officer snorting, grunting, and squeaking all kinds of pig latin, waiting for his banana from the baristas. We love Starbucks, especially our local branch, and want everyone to know why.
I find myself in the drive-thru line most mornings — with Officer. The faces may have changed over the years, but never the love, as they generously reward my “pig passenger” in the backseat. As he tries to get his awkward body into view of his favorite drive-thru barista babe, Nicole, he sticks his massive head out the window, and patiently waits for her to toss a banana into his salivating mouth.
Some weekends, you may find Officer sunning himself in the outside sitting area. Belly full of bananas and a fresh bowl of water, Officer naps while mommy works. Officer, a licensed service pig, has even been inside the Bee Ridge Rd & Cattlemen Rdstore. How? or even Why?you may wonder. Well, I had a blind-date, and yes, I brought my pig with me for protection. By the time we got home, social media was trending, “A pig in Starbucks”. People from all over were commenting, sharing, and overall “loving it”. I decided to take Officer last Sunday, to our local store, and see what comments customers had about a pig being a “regular”.
The positive response was overwhelming. Nancy Samsel and her husband drove down from Tampa for the day. They lost their “four-legged best friend” in January and came to look at a breeder in Lakewood Ranch. Although, they had no luck in finding their next family member, Nancy said that meeting Officer, “made my trip here worthwhile.” She applauded Starbucks for welcoming ALL, even a pig named Officer, and called it, “Fabulous…Pigalicious!”
Many reciprocated Frank McGrath sentiments, “I like him; he’s happy and makes everyone else happy too.” Like, Felicity McCoy, who stopped specifically because she saw a pig and thought it was “adorable”, Alex Aguilar and Sofi Anderson viewed Officer at Starbucks as, “cool and different”.
Bree Moss FaceTimed her four year old daughter who immediately asked, “Can we get one?” Followed by her husband in the background asking, “Is it hypoallergenic?”
Then Officer met the other “regulars” — students from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM — Bradenton Campus). Kimberly Mai (MS2), Alex Bugg (MMS), and Shnpa Malik (MMS) all promised that once they graduate in two years, they would keep bananas on hand in case Officer ever comes by for an officer visit.
However, my favorite comment of the day had to be from Dane Pernot (MS2) who had been sitting at a table outside since we first arrived.
“So, you’ve been watching Officer for the last hour, what are your thoughts?” I asked.
Contemplative, he slowly responded. “Honestly, I feel guilty eating pork now.”
There are approximately 85 million pet owners currently in the United States alone. While offering Puppuccinos to dogs, ‘man’s best friend’, Starbucks has never discriminated against my best friend — or his love of bananas. For us, Starbucks,has lived up to its official slogan.
To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.
So next time you visit a Starbucks, bring your best friend, and tell the barista Officer the mini pig sent you!
(Photo Credit: Chad Spencer)
Officer is a full-grown, 5 year old, micro-mini/mini pig — weighing 65 pounds. He is a well-known pig about town and enjoys bringing awareness to the causes of local charity’s. He has even modeled in a convertible Boxster for Suncoast Porsche. (see above picture)
To learn more about Officer the mini pig, follow his blog, Pig Tales, at www.LeeVolpe.com, and LIKE his FaceBook page — Officer the mini pig.