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Starbucks Community Meeting Play by Play

Update: The Boston Globe is reporting Mayor Marty Walsh’s office is coming out against Starbucks at the hearing for the Common Victualers License on Wednesday morning at City Hall.  Normally this type of license is just part of the process and typically gets approved without issue – especially if the space has already been zoned for a restaurant by the City’s zoning board.  Evidently not in this case.  The mayor’s office is against the Starbucks “due to inadequate support in the neighborhood.”  Hmmm…..

A meeting was held on Monday night to discuss this license from the City of Boston for the space at 749 East Broadway aka Starbucks.  The space has already been approved for zoning for a restaurant.  According the city’s website, “Every food service establishment in the City of Boston with capabilities for cooking, preparing and serving food is required to have a Common Victualler License.” 

The meeting began with John Allison – Neighborhood Coordinator for Mayor Marty Walsh greeting the crowd of about 65 people in the cafeteria of the Tynan School.  Dan, a consultant for the new Starbucks, spoke first about the fact they have been approved for restaurant zoning and they should get approval for the Common Victualers License.  Starbucks Regional Director Damian Waugh addressed the positive things about Starbucks like hiring from the neighborhood.  He also mentioned they Starbucks does give back to the community.

There were lots of representatives from Southie small businesses in particular Molly Moo’s, Boston Bagel Company and the Cranberry Cafe.  A representative of the Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association was also in attendance.

There was both vocal opposition and support of the new Starbucks. The meeting was pretty evenly split.

Here is a list of the concerns brought up:

  • Double parking
  • Trash/Clean streets
  • Deliveries
  • The fear that Starbucks will not support local charities and organizations
  • The fear that other businesses will go out of business due to Starbucks opening

People in support of the new Starbucks voiced:

  • How great the new building looks
  • Starbucks will be a good neighbor
  • There are no coffee shops opened up after 4pm in the area
  • Free wifi and a place to sit and work

Starbucks said they will do their best to be a good neighbor.  They will donated to local charities, organizations and events.  They can’t commit to a number but they will do their best to support all.   Said the regional manager of Starbucks, “We have to open first before we can make any commitment.” 

Best remarks/concerns/support:

  • That Starbucks already has a plan to apply for a liquor license in 2 years
  • “My name is Maureen Shea, tea drinker and I think the new building looks great.  It’s an improvement to the old Cox Electric Building.  Let’s stop all this bickering and get out of this meeting before we’re all dead.”  Right on, Maureen!
  • Do you have a plan to stop people from double parking? Asked of Starbucks’ managers.
  • Someone asked if Starbucks would defer their licensing meeting for 30 days to address all of the neighborhood concerns.
  • Mention of Starbucks refusing to send coffee to military
  • One resident said the neighborhood was hoodwinked into thinking it would be an Italian restaurant and then Starbucks “snuck in.”  Starbucks responded by stating the space was zoned for a restaurant and it didn’t specify what kind of restaurant or name of restaurant.
  • Someone stated, “If not Starbucks, what do you want in that space.”  Everything from retail to restaurants were shouted out.
  • Starbucks Manager stated that Starbucks is always active in the community – especially the business community.  They want to make sure our business district is thriving.

Bomb tossing:

  • Someone called out Brian from Boston Bagel for asking about parking plan.  “The same thing you are asking Starbucks is what the neighborhood did to you when you were opening.”
  • After Boston Bagel asked Starbucks about affecting the hiring pool for employees, someone called them out asking if Boston Bagel was concerned with other small business/coffee shops before they were opening.
  • Kevin Lally from Gate of Heaven Neighborhood Association called out Mo from Molly Moo’s after stating that Molly Moo’s had to go before the neighborhood and present what type of business he was opening.  “You never came before our neighborhood group.  Never,” said Lally.
  • After one resident claimed they had never received anything from West Broadway Starbucks when asked for a donation, one resident said they were given a $100 gift card when they asked.

So if we were a betting person, we would put our money on the licensing board approving the Common Victualers License on Wednesday.  All are invited to attend.  It takes place Wednesday morning at 10am at City Hall.  If you want to email your support or opposition you can send letter to John Allison at john.allison@boston.gov

Backstory:

Mike Norton, Southie resident and owner the building had tried for over a year to put a restaurant in the spot but could not obtain a liquor license.  A month ago, Norton went before the  Boston Licensing Board to request a coveted unlimited liquor license. Norton was hoping to be teaming up with known restauranteurs Brian Poe and Gordon Wilcox of Parrish Cafe and Rattlesnake Bar and Grille fame.  Unfortunately, Norton’s request for license was deferred.  So therefore Grande Non-Fat Lattes all around! Starbucks hopes to open by June.  Southie free-standing Starbucks Count will be 3.

Interesting articles about Starbucks that were tweeted at us:

This one from Slate

This one from Bloomberg

and this one from Zillow

So maybe we are just fearful of the unknown? For now let’s hope Starbucks ends up being good for the neighborhood.  

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About the Author

Maureen Dahill

Maureen Dahill is the editor of Caught in Southie and a lifelong resident of South Boston sometimes mistaken for a yuppie. Hockey mom, yoga enthusiast, lover of red wine and binge watching TV series. Mrs. Peter G. Follow her @MaureenCaught.

Comments

  1. I would’ve like to read about more bomb tossing. I don’t care about Starbuck’s one way or the other. Something was going in there anyway.

  2. So people are concerned about double parking there…. But nowhere else is South Boston.. Hmmmmm….
    It’s going in. Local business do not like to.. Better step up your game then…

  3. I know people keep bringing up that they believe Starbucks doesn’t support the military as a reason they don’t want the new store — so it makes sense to include it in the roundup. But mentioning it without noting that it’s an old-standing rumor that has been proven false keeps it going and just gets people more riled up. Maybe add this link in parentheses when it’s mentioned? https://news.starbucks.com/views/myths-facts-military-donations

    Highlights:
    – Starbucks has a hiring program specifically for veterans
    – Starbucks provides coffee to relief effort workers in areas of conflict
    – They send instant coffee packets in care packages to troops

  4. Southie uses double parking to stop bike lanes and Starbucks. didn’t know you could connect the two until now.