Starbucks tries to woo business owners

Starbucks representatives armed with renderings, color palettes and pledges of community involvement tried to calm tensions sparked by their plan to open a location in the Montrose Shopping Park on Honolulu Avenue.

“We’re not evil corporate America,” Mike Abbate, store development manager, told about 20 business owners at a Montrose Shopping Park Assn. meeting on Thursday. “That’s not part of our fiber.“

Last month, concerns arose from existing business owners that a Starbucks was a poor fit the shopping park’s independent feel and that there would be inadequate parking for the influx of customers.

It would also be across the street from a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Starbucks, which plans to move into the storefront that currently houses Color Me Mine on the southeast corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard, is seeking a parking reduction permit with the city that would allow 15 fewer parking spaces than required by city code. No hearing has been scheduled, but Bradley Collin, a senior city planner, said it would likely come up for review before the end of the year.

Although Starbucks opponents admitted that a Starbucks store’s presence would jumpstart the sleepy shopping park dotted with mom-and-pop shops, some weren’t assuaged by Abbate’s pitch.

“Your customers are going to park in our parking lot,” said Andre Ordubegian, owner of nearby Copy Network. “What are you going to do about it?”

The shopping park has several metered parking spots, but visitors often park in store lots, blocking parking for actual shoppers. Bruce Meyer, Color Me Mine’s landlord, said there were no plans to build more parking. Color Me Mine plans to move to a smaller space next door.

The proposed Starbucks would include about 13 seats on an outside patio. Inside, there are plans for large meeting tables and individual seats to accommodate 23 customers.

“We’re looking at rich woods, tones and textures. There’s a lot of richness in the history of Montrose. There’s a lot of tradition,” said Anthony Le, a design manager for Starbucks.

The Montrose location would be one of two Starbucks planned to open in the area in 2012, Abbate said. Starbucks also has about 16 stores in the planning stages from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles County.

Abbate said in the past, Starbucks would have opened four times as many stores in one year, but has moved away from its strategy of “growth for growth’s sake.”


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