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shiru-brown

Shiru Cafe's location near Brown University, which recently closed. 

Photo Courtesy of Soki Yamada / Wikimedia Commons.

Shiru Café, a Japan-based café chain that serves college students free of monetary charge in exchange for personal data, had plans to open a location in Princeton this past winter. However, these plans never came to fruition, and since then Shiru has closed its three U.S. locations.

Last October, The Daily Princetonian reported that Shiru Café had plans to open in the winter of 2018.

At that time, Shiru had one location at Brown University, with locations in New Haven and Amherst under construction and locations at Harvard University and in Princeton in the “leasing and permitting” phases. However, by January, Shiru’s website removed “Princeton” from its “Our Locations” page, and, this September, The Brown Daily Herald reported that Shiru would be closing all U.S. locations.

At the Providence location, Shiru served free coffee (one cup every two hours) to any student who completed a Shiru “resume” with their name, email address, major, class year, and professional interests of technical skills. With the mission of “[creating] a place where students can learn about the professional world and envision their future careers,” Shiru’s main source of revenue at its Japanese and Indian locations is sponsorship. At these locations, Shiru trains its baristas to provide explanations about the sponsor corporations and holds events where company representatives can interact directly with students.

Shiru currently has 19 locations in Japan and six in India, with three more Indian locations currently listed as “Coming Soon.” At the time of previous reporting by the ‘Prince,’ Shiru had a singular U.S. location at Brown University and an estimated 76 percent of the Brown student body had registered as cafe members.

Also at that point, Shiru had yet to secure any corporate sponsors for its U.S. locations. However, The Herald reported in early September that the café had established partnerships with Upserve, Service After Service, and Wirecard and expected “twenty to twenty-five [sponsorships] by the end of the year” at the three New-England based cafés.

Since then, all three of Shiru’s U.S. locations have closed. One reason for the business's financial trouble, according to reporting from The Herald, was “a ‘more elaborate and sophisticated’ espresso-based coffee culture in the U.S.’”

The specific reasons for Shiru’s decision to give up on opening a location in Princeton are unknown.

Shiru’s U.S. Director of Operations Keith Maher did not respond to request for comment from the ‘Prince.’ However, in an email to The Herald, Maher wrote that Shiru will close its U.S. locations to “remain focused on ‘continued growth’ in Japan and India.”

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