By Charly SHELTON
It’s official: Starbucks in Montrose will serve beer and wine in addition to its coffeehouse favorites. As of Dec. 10, the Conditional Use Permit was approved by the City of Glendale for the sale and on-site consumption of alcohol. The Starbucks Evenings menu will feature select beer and wine offerings in addition to a new menu of higher-end fare, including truffle mac and cheese, an assortment of flatbreads, spinach-artichoke dip and bacon wrapped dates, among other dishes. The food menu offerings will begin after noon and the alcohol service will begin after 5 p.m.
This is an issue that has been under the magnifying glass for the last several months of both the Montrose Shopping Park Association specifically and the community at large. When the idea of the Evenings menu being brought to the Montrose Starbucks was first raised at the MSPA meeting in September, a Starbucks spokesperson stated, “We are not considering the Starbucks location in Montrose for the Evenings menu at this time.”
But on Oct. 3, a sign of Notice of Pending Decision was installed at the location by the City of Glendale. The Evenings menu will be offered beginning sometime after the beginning of the year.
An appeal is scheduled for Dec. 28. Anyone who wants to challenge the permit has to present a reason why this Conditional Use Permit should not be granted, either due to procedural irregularities or substantial new evidence that would have to be presented.
Two major issues have been voiced surrounding this permit: parking and saturation. Parking is regularly crowded in the Montrose Shopping Park and, with the addition of a Starbucks, it has only gotten worse, said MSPA President Andre Ordubegian. His store, Copy Network, is located just south of the Starbucks location at Ocean View Boulevard and Honolulu Avenue. Copy Network is situated in a small lot which, he said, is often used by Starbucks customers.
“We already see a lot of traffic in our parking lot. If you come by at 4 o’clock our parking lot is full from people who go to the restaurants and Starbucks,” said Ordubegian. “[The worst offenders are] the ones who go to Starbucks with their computers and buy a cup of coffee and sit for a couple of hours – they really don’t want to put any money in the meters. So they find any parking that is not metered, [some] of which is our parking lot. Because of that we lose customers. They drive to our parking lot and there is no parking to be had.”
This is not a new issue nor one that is related to the sale of alcohol at Starbucks. According to the Conditional Use Permit letter of acceptance, “In February 2012, the Planning Hearing Officer approved with conditions Parking Reduction Permit case No. PPRP 2001-004 to allow the operation of a fast food restaurant without providing the required number of parking spaces. The addition of beer and wine at Starbucks should not increase to any significant degree the need for additional parking spaces.”
The other matter is that of saturation. Many who discuss this issue at MSPA board meetings have asked why Starbucks needs to serve alcohol when there are many bars and restaurants in the shopping park that already fill that need. According to the Conditional Use Permit letter of acceptance, “The area contains more on-sale establishments than is suggested for the census tract. The addition of Starbucks will only slightly increase this over-concentration of alcoholic service in the tract. Montrose Shopping Park has a concentration of retail and restaurant uses and serves as a hub for the surrounding community and regional draw. The fact that there is an over concentration of licenses is not an issue for the Police Department or Neighborhood Services. Typically, serving of alcoholic beverages as part of food service does not create problematic situations.”
Starbucks position as a fast food establishment appears to remain and, under the conditions of this permit, alcohol cannot be served without a food purchase at the same time.
With the appeal date fast approaching, it remains to be seen whether or not anyone will lodge an appeal that will be brought before the Glendale City Council.
In a related story, rumors are circulating of a possible new Starbucks location that would replace the Burger King currently at 3517 Foothill Blvd. in La Crescenta. After receiving several calls and emails from readers, CV Weekly reached out to the company. A Starbucks spokesperson stated via email this week, “We cannot confirm any plans for a new store opening in La Crescenta. We are always looking for ways to better meet the needs of our customers; however, we do not have any additional information to share at this time.”