By Charly SHELTON
The Montrose Shopping Park Association held its monthly meeting last Thursday to discuss a range of topics. From new restaurants to changes in menu offerings to town festivals, the presentations by prospective vendors and discussion by the MSPA board is meant to move the shopping park in a direction that is beneficial for the merchants and keep the town going strong.
Oktoberfest was reviewed by the board in a recap presentation from Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce members Melinda Clarke and Pat Longo. Overall, the sentiment was one of disdain and frustration, from both the board members and the MSPA members in the audience.
“As a merchant, we don’t like this event because it kills business,” said Kim Kelly of Merle Norman Cosmetics. “But what we had was a lot of customers coming in afterward saying the prices were just too high. We had kids coming in to say they can’t do the rides because they’re too expensive.”
This was echoed to varying degrees by other members in the meeting, citing concerns that included human waste left around town, the amount of trash generated, port-a-potties not picked up for days afterward, high prices, social media outcry and that the event is, as one member called it, “too big for our town.”
“As a former president of the chamber, one of the things that concerns me the most is what the social media response was to this event,” said Ken Grayson of Grayson’s Tune Town. “It was very negative, it goes out to thousands of people and, quite frankly, a lot of the blame was on the Montrose Shopping Park as opposed to knowing who was running the event. This is not good for future business. You can make corrections, but I don’t know. My initial response was that you never will have this event on our streets again. My response now, after thinking about it, is to give you one more trial year to get this straightened out because we can’t afford these negative comments about the Montrose Shopping Park.”
Another issue weighing on the MSPA meeting was the upcoming installation of a new boba shop, It’s Boba Time, opening in the former location of Landry’s Sporting Goods. For those unfamiliar, boba is a Taiwanese drink, usually a milk tea, with little balls of tapioca root suspended in the tea. It’s Boba Time will take the retail space of Landry’s and convert it into a counter service restaurant serving a wide array of boba drinks, grilled paninis, popcorn chicken, French fries and similar fare. In addition, it will serve as the training center for the 10 current locations of the franchise restaurant, with another 10 locations hoping to open soon.
The biggest issue at the MSPA meeting was the addition of the Evenings menu to the Montrose Starbucks. This menu features a beer and wine selection, and a scaled up menu for dinner offerings, including truffle mac and cheese, an array of artisanal flatbreads, bacon wrapped dates and spinach artichoke dip.
“The idea is to have a time in the evening when Starbucks offers a great tasting menu, in addition to the beer and wine,” said Keith Glassman of Glassman Planning Associates Inc. “But what we want to do is tell you that the response we received from our customers and the community has been overwhelming. We have over 85 signatures just from the store itself from customers coming in.”
Despite the support that one board member cited as being “one-sided” because only signatures of support were being collected which does not measure dissent, many on the board felt that offering alcohol at Starbucks was redundant in a town with no shortage of alcohol-service establishments.
“[As a] whole community, do we need more beer and wine places in our neighborhood and should we allow all other coffee shops to sell beer and wine?” asked MSPA Board President Andre Ordubegian.
The same option came up at a proposed Evenings menu location in Burbank and the community declined to accept the menu change, citing concerns of “how to control a teenager from taking a half drunk bottle of beer and pouring it into their Starbucks cup and drinking it.”
The decision regarding the Montrose change has been postponed for the time being, at least until the new year. For more information on the Evenings menu, visit Starbucks.com/Evenings.