Whitestone small businesses have spent the last year fighting through the pandemic and the financial shortfalls it brought, but now they may have a new enemy: a Starbucks may be brewing by the spring.
Rumors began circulating after a resident found a site plan bid online, causing small business owners grave concern. The area is home to several delis, restaurants and bagel stores. There are also two mom-and-pop coffee shops just around the corner from the proposed 149-51 Cross Island Pkwy. site: Under Pressure Espresso Bar on 150th Street and Coffee Lab on Clintonville Street.
A spokesperson from Starbucks confirmed the rumors, telling the Chronicle that it will include a drive-through and hire 25 employees.
“We are proud to be a member of the Whitestone community,” the spokesperson said. “It has a thriving coffee community that allows all types of businesses to exist together and customers will choose the coffee experience that is best for them. We know our customers are passionate about coffee as well as their local businesses, and we believe independent stores and small chains can continue to grow and thrive along with Starbucks. It is all in service of elevating specialty coffee — which is a good thing for everyone.”
The area businesses feel differently.
According to the Whitestone Merchants Association, representing the various small enterprises in the neighborhood, there is no need for a Starbucks in Whitestone.
“We are a lucky neighborhood to have many coffee, bagel and breakfast spots right in our community that are owned by local residents,” the association told the Chronicle in an email. “We would hate to see them impacted by a large corporation coming in and taking business from them.”
The Whitestone Merchants Association pointed out that there are three Dunkin’ Donuts within half a mile of one another, one of which is down the block from the incoming Starbucks, and that there are other Starbucks locations just a short drive away. Coupled with the parking issue the neighborhood is experiencing, which the group chalks up to the Post Office using street spaces, the coffee chain would only deter business further in the area, the association said.
“Adding this new location would be a saturation of a market that is not necessary. At this time we fail to see how this would be a benefit to our community,” the group said.
According to the city Department of Buildings records, the paperwork to erect the coffee shop was filed Jan. 26, and is still pending approval.