This story was printed in the Post this morning, Feb. 28.
BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Starbucks’ plan to close 150 “underperforming” stores nationwide this year has struck three mid-Peninsula locations, shuttering cafes in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Mountain View.
The Starbucks at 863 El Camino Real in Menlo Park closed Feb. 1, closely following closures at Midtown Palo Alto on Jan. 25 and at Mountain View’s Blossom Valley center in December.
Starbucks fans can still get their fix at more than 20 locations between Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View.
But the closures have shown that even though Starbucks is ubiquitous, neighborhoods can get attached to their local outpost.
At Midtown Palo Alto, dozens of neighbors posted on Nextdoor lamenting the closure. Some even started an online petition to try and urge Starbucks to keep the store open, with 150 people signing in support.
Former Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy even wrote an online tribute to the Midtown Starbucks — and the family rituals he had established there for years — called “Pour One Out for the Starbucks at Middlefield and Colorado.”
“It was a gut punch, like a celebrity death or a valued co-worker leaving the company,” Cassidy wrote.
Rent didn’t go up
The store’s landlord, Tim Foy of Midtown Realty, said Starbucks had been there for 18 or 19 years. Rumors circulated that Starbucks was leaving in response to a rent increase, but Foy said he hadn’t raised the store’s rent prior to the closure.
“We’re very sorry to see Starbucks gone. We thought they were a wonderful tenant,” Foy told the Post. “We’re doing everything we can to bring in a nice tenant to complement the neighborhood.”
Foy said he had been in talks with some potential tenants but hadn’t signed anyone on yet. The space has to be leased to a retail store or restaurant per the city zoning code.
Affection for Starbucks
And evidently, Palo Altans aren’t alone in getting attached to their local Starbucks.
Some 788 people have signed an online petition called “Keep Our Very Special Starbucks Open,” protesting the closure of a Starbucks on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
Starbucks regular Michael Schertz wrote on the petition that the store had “added enormous value to our community over the years and which, far more than any other Starbucks store we’ve ever experienced, has actually embodied the human and social ideals the brand presumes to espouse.”
You’ve got to wonder what kind of person would care if a Starbucks closed. Starbucks is like McDonald’s, all locations are the same. Banal is the word. If your Starbucks goes away, there’s another one down the street.
Parking was a royal pain at the Midtown location. It wasn’t worth the hassle. I can see why it was an “underperforming” store for them. Good luck to Tom Foy in finding a replacement.
Curtis is right. Going through the tunnel and hiking back was strange. It probably did pretty well but compared to Starbucks locations with drive through and better parking there is no question it would underperform
What bothers me the most about this article is the arrogance of the city government autocrats who pass zoning laws restricting what type of business or non-business can operate at that location. Why should that space be limited to retail or restaurant only? In a free society, the landlord should be allowed to lease to whomever he wants under mutually beneficial terms and conditions, with the only outside restriction being ordinary nuisance and property laws that apply to all, not anti-competitive and rights-violating zoning rules.
As for Starbucks, best of luck to a risk-taking company that tries best to please its customers. You’ve done a great job over the years!
A story that shook Palo Alto to its core!
Gee. We have two starbucks within three hundred yards of each other (Mowry/Blacow and Mowry Farwell in Fremont) and they are not closing. Must be a razor thin margin in profits to make those under performing decisions.
Midtown Starbucks and the gym next door both had their leases raised by a huge margin. Major reason they both had to vacate the premises. Lease increase would was going to make them both negative income locations. [Editor’s note: Landlord Tim Foy denies raising the rent on Starbucks.]