Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information about the licensee that will operate the store in the Edison Building.
Starbucks, the national coffeehouse chain that has been conspicuously absent from downtown Toledo despite a reputation for being ubiquitous at last is coming to the heart of the Glass City in August.
A Representative from the Seattle-based company that helped popularize the idea that coffee could be a premium drink said a Starbucks store will open in the first floor mezzanine of the Edison Building at 300 Madison Ave., just blocks away from locally owned coffee shops.
A Starbucks spokesman said a licensee will operate the store in the Edison Building. Sodexo USA Health Care Services is the licensee that will develop, staff, and own the store, said Sodexo District Manager Ron Dorchak. Sodexo will be a tenant of ProMedica, which owns the building.
Starbucks has 7,146 licensed stores, which are staffed by the licensee’s employees but must follow Starbucks training guidelines that include beverage quality, store cleanliness, and other rules for creating the Starbucks Experience for customers.
Starbucks also has 9,413 company-owned stores, but customers won’t be able to tell the difference.
Starbucks isn’t new to Toledo. In fact, it has 16 company-owned or licensed locations around the city.
But until now it had yet to allow a full store in downtown.
The Focaccia’s Market store in the SeaGate concourse beneath the Fifth Third Bank building got a Starbucks license two years ago. It serves Starbucks coffee and coffee drinks, but it doesn’t have the full range of beverages and foods that a typical Starbucks store contains.
Rachael Resnick, co-owner of the market, said she expects a full Starbucks store to be instantly popular. “There are a lot of people that love Starbucks coffee and will go out of their way to get it,” she said.
One might think that would worry other coffee purveyors downtown, but it doesn’t.
Ben Spang, manager of Plate One downtown, said he always thought of the arrival of a Starbucks as a sign that an area was successful. “They’ve become like a Subway [sandwich shop]. They’re on every corner,” he said.
“I’m certainly not worried about the competition. We always planned to have a chain like that around,” Mr. Spang said.
Plate One’s strategy is to be more than a coffee shop. Though it serves gourmet-coffee drinks, it has a liquor license to sell wine, beer, and cocktails, making it an after-work gathering spot.
“To be honest, I think new [retailers] might be more willing to come in with [Starbucks] here. They definitely do the market research that I can’t do … and I take it as a sign this is a good place to be,” Mr. Spang said.
Kelsey Motoligan, a manager at Bleak House Coffee on Adams Street, said she was indifferent to Starbucks’ impending arrival.
“Toledo is up and coming, so anything that can help in that area, I’m not too worried about,” she said.
“We have people who back us. And our coffee is a lot different than Starbucks, so it doesn’t really concern me,” Ms. Motoligan said. “I just feel like all things together, we’re very different from them, so I don’t think it will hurt us. It might help us if it brings more people downtown and down our way.”
Likewise, Andrew Trumbull, owner of Claro Coffee Bar on Adams Street, wasn’t concerned.
“I think a lot of our clientele are not really Starbucks people,” he said.
Mr. Trumbull said he and other local coffee shops are considered third wave — a movement to produce high-quality coffee and think of coffee as an artisanal foodstuff, such as wine, rather than a commodity.
In that respect, he and similar shops don’t think they quite compare to a Starbucks, he said.
“Actually, I’m pretty optimistic about this. There’s a possibility of other businesses saying, ‘Gee, there’s a Starbucks downtown.’ That could bring in a shoe store or other stores,” he said.
Balance Grille restaurants co-owner Prakash Karamchandani is about to open a Balance downtown just steps away from where Starbucks plans to open.
He agrees that a new Starbucks is a good thing, even for local coffee houses.
“I don’t think the local shops will be scared at all,” he said.
“Bringing a Starbucks downtown, however they would license it, I don’t think they would do that without a lot of demographic research. It still matters to them if they are forced to close a store,” Mr. Karamchandani said.
“So I think it’s a sign that there’s enough foot traffic to support a national brand. And when enough national people come in, then you get that wave, and before you know it, Summit Street is alive again with retail,” Mr. Karamchandani said.
“It’s happened in Cleveland, and it happened in Pittsburgh,” he said. “I don’t see why it can’t happen here.”
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