By Mary O’KEEFE
Starbucks began their “Evenings” program, which offers beer and wine starting later in the day, at some of their locations. The first one was located in Seattle, Washington in 2010. The next year they expanded their program to several locations in Chicago and in 2012 they took the program to Atlanta and Southern California.
“As part of an enhanced menu, these stores will serve new premium food (including savory snacks, small plates, and hot flatbreads) as well as wine and beer. The wine and beer list will be hand-selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, and will be refined over time. In addition to providing a product assortment not traditionally found at Starbucks, these stores will incorporate flexible seating to accommodate individuals and small groups as well as larger parties that want to host community meetings or other events such as book clubs, ” stated Starbucks at the time.
And now the Evenings program is being proposed for the Montrose Shopping Park location.
The subject was first brought up a few months ago at a Montrose Shopping Park Association meeting. Keith Glassman of Glassman Planning Associates Inc. spoke to the MSPA board about Starbucks’ interest in serving wine and beer at the Montrose location.
At the time the board had a few issues including increased traffic and parking. MSPA President Andre Ordubegian voiced his concern about the parking and trash behind the Starbucks location. He was not anxious to advance with any program until those issues were dealt with first.
Ordubegian said although the management at the Montrose Starbucks was “nice” they had not dealt with these issues despite continued requests from the board.
Parking issues included Starbucks employees and customers who continually parked in areas that are reserved, and paid for, by specific merchants for their customers.
“We know parking is scarce,” Ordubegian said.
After the meeting, CVW contacted Starbucks and questioned their intent on bringing wine and beer to the Montrose store.
“We are not considering the Starbucks location in Montrose for the Evenings menu at this time, but feel free to reach out at a later date to check in,” stated a Starbucks spokesperson via email on Sept. 16.
This was confusing since their representative had presented it at the MSPA meeting.
The discussion was to continue at the October MSPA meeting; however, the representative who was scheduled to be there could not make it, Glassman said.
Then on Oct. 3 a sign from the City of Glendale appeared outside the Montrose Starbucks location of a “Notice of Pending Decision.”
“They have applied for an administrative use permit,” said Milica Toledo, City of Glendale Community Developement Dept.Planning Division. “They would like to serve on-site consumption of beer and wine.”
The decision is to be made by the city on Oct. 13.
At the MSPA meeting Glassman attended the question was asked about outreach to the community. At the time Glassman said there would be outreach but no community meetings had been planned. And as of press time there were no meetings planned for community input.
When CVW contacted Starbucks about the community outreach they responded:
“As we do with any store we’re considering, we’ll continue to follow all the local requirements and steps necessary as we move forward with pursuing this store for the Evenings program. Just as each customer is unique, so are our stores and we consider a broad range of products and experiences for each neighborhood. As you’ve seen, we’re in the very early stages of considering our store at 2284 Honolulu Ave. in Montrose for the Evenings menu. It’s a long and thoughtful process and the permit filing is just one of many steps we take. While we don’t have additional details to share at this time, feel free to check back in,” stated a Starbucks spokesperson.
“We are recommending to approve with conditions,” Toledo said.
The conditions have not been released as of yet and Toledo added that as of Wednesday afternoon she had heard no opposition to the program, although that may change by Oct. 13.
Personally, not as a board member, Ordubegian questioned why the coffee shop needed to serve beer and wine.
Glassman said the stores had seen a drop in sales after 4 p.m. and this was a way to offer customers more options.
In the past few weeks Glassman has implemented some changes to help with parking concerns.
“We posted a sign in Starbucks to show where the parking is and we talked to the store manager,” Glassman said.
There are also signs in the affected parking lots. Glassman said he is also working on the trash issue. The employees had, at times, placed garbage on the outside of the bins which created unsightly and unhealthy conditions in the parking lot behind the store.
But some are not convinced Starbucks is listening to their concerns.
“I am totally against [the Evenings program],” said Robert Yoohanna, a Montrose merchant. “I went to the [MSPA] meeting and felt I [as a merchant] was ignored.”
For Once Upon a Time owner Maureen Palacios the concern is not as much the parking as it is the wine and beer being sold.
“Why do we need another facility that serves alcohol? We have great restaurants in Montrose and around [Starbucks] that serve [alcohol],” Palacios said.
She is also concerned about the “unintended alcohol” that may be served at a self-service counter.
Restaurants have waiters who continually check on their customers; however, Palacios’ concern is that those who pick up their own beer or wine will then go to the outside tables where there is no monitoring.
“We don’t have waiters and there is no table service … but there is monitoring. This a big issue for us,” Glassman said.
He said the employees go through a specific training on how to serve alcohol and will check on the tables periodically.
“We are very sensitive to community concerns,” Glassman said.
Glassman said he is requesting to be placed on the MSPA board agenda for the Nov. 5 meeting. And whether the permit is approved or not, they will discuss concerns from those in attendance.
Toledo added that unless there are concerns shared with the planning department they will be recommending the permit approval.
It should be noted that Starbucks had attempted to bring their Evenings program to a location in Burbank recently but it was rejected by the city due to concerns the public shared.
Starbucks is also rumored to be looking at moving into 3517 Foothill Blvd., where Burger King has been since the 1980s.
This does seem to follow a trend with Starbucks and established drive-through restaurants. The Burger King in Sunland is now a drive-through Starbucks.
When asked about this move Starbucks replied: “Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers and we are continually evaluating our store portfolio. At this time, we remain focused on serving customers in Glendale at our existing stores and have no store-opening plans to announce,” stated a Starbucks spokesperson.