The rumor is the result of a fake AP news story, which first appeared online last week. Phoenix resident and hoaxer extraordinaire Paul Horner confirmed to New Times via Facebook chat on Monday that he was behind the story. Horner's past antics include fooling Fox News into believing President Obama was funding a Muslim museum, convincing Phoenix art lovers the Lost Leaf had been tagged by world- famous street artist Banksy, and getting lots of people to believe a town in Louisiana banned twerking.
Horner posted the story on his personal Facebook last week, generating hundreds of shares and dozens of comments.
According to the story, the biggest Starbucks in the world, called "Magnum," will open its doors this November "at the corner of 7th Avenue and Roosevelt, in the trendy downtown art’s district of Phoenix." And while that's somewhat believable, the article then goes on to purport that the store will include dozens of sweet features such as "robot baristas," an "above and below-ground water slide," and a "coffee bean bounce house" — plus a "Gravitron," "concert hall," "petting zoo," "pirate ship"... oh, and free Wi-Fi. Can't forget that. In fact, the list of attractions continues to grow as Horner comes up with more ideas.
"Every time I think of something awesome that I would have in an establishment, I just go in and add," Horner writes. "I think there's about 40 different things now, so ridiculous."
Horner says he wrote the fake story, "just because I hate Starbucks and corporate franchises like that."
"I just thought it would be funny if Starbucks came in and put a Disney Land right there in the Arts District there," he adds, admitting that got the idea for the story from a friend who goes by the name Phil Freedom. Freedom is even quoted in the story:
“I’m so happy that more commercialized coffee franchises like Starbucks are moving into the area. Spots like Jobot, Lola and Songbird are just frequented by too many free-thinkers,” says 39-year-old local Phoenix resident Phil Freedom. “I’m also relieved that the Children’s Hospital that was planned for this location is now permanently put on hold; what an eyesore that would have been.”
This is far from the first time Horner has started rumors about Phoenix that have gone viral on the internet. In fact, as he points out, about a year ago he penned a story about a McDonald's on Seventh Street and McDowell Road that would be run entirely by robots.
"That went viral and was pretty funny," Horner says. "If you read the story, it's just movie quotes from the movie Office Space."