Written by: Medina Sosic and Gabriela Kieta
Starbucks has plans to open a drive-thru store on a city-owned vacant lot located on 31st and Halsted Streets next to the 9th District Police Station. The date has not been released to the public, however the vacant lot has been approved for sale in December 2018.
If the development goes as planned, this would be at least the sixth coffee shop, not including the two Dunkin Donuts in Bridgeport.
Alderman Thompson envisioned a neighborhood where members of the community would walk around town to get errands done. With this Starbucks development–it would do just that.
Bridgeport is one of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods located on the South Side, known to be one of the cities oldest and politically influenced neighborhoods. In fact, five Chicago mayors are proud to call Bridgeport their home.
The neighborhood used to have a large Polish, Lithuanian, Irish, and Italian population, however now there is more representation of African-Americans, Mexicans, and Chinese. Neighboring communities such as Pilsen and Chinatown are have likely caused the Mexican and Chinese population to move into Bridgeport.
Bridgeport has made a major transition from an industrial hub to an alluring scene for dining and art. Resident favorites include Jackalope Coffee, located on 755 W 32nd St., Maria’s Packaged Goods & Community Bar on 960 W 31st St, Taqueria San Jose on 3253 S Halsted St., Bridgeport Art Center located on 1200 W 35th St., and the famous Johnny O’s Hot Dog Stand located on 3465 S Morgan St.
Here’s a quick preview of the vibrant inside of Jackalope Coffee:
Joy Cafe and Red Line Cafe are other Bridgeport coffee spots.
It is estimated to cost around $2.5 million.
Bridgeport residents aren’t too fond of the project, as they value local businesses and contribute to their prosperity.
Patrick Bartman, a Bridgeport resident of three years, initially found out about the Starbucks developments on the “Bridgeport Chicago” Facebook group. He soon learned more details from a friend involved in Civic Data Science. This is the second attempt at getting this project going, but so far the most compelling.
“Knowing how heavily these community hubs would be affected with a drive-thru Starbucks within spitting distance scares me,” Bartman said.
Starbucks Corporation turned down several interview requests from the Red Line Project, citing a written policy that they are not allowed to comment on/about competitive situations.
Jackalope, Joy Cafe, and Bridgeport Coffeehouse also refused interview requests due to their business policies. Regardless of business size, similar policies are put into place when it comes to competitors and their business.
With another Starbucks just less than two miles away in Bronzeville, Bartman sees how busy this location is without the convenience of a drive-thru, he says there is no doubt the 31st and Halsted streets will do well.
“It seems wrong for Starbucks to become the dominant player here, as the beverages at the local establishments are cheaper and arguably better.”
Leonardo Kekic, a third-year business major student at the University of Illinois of Chicago, said that tending to this vacant lot and opening of Starbucks will in fact, raise the value of the neighborhood and allow more traffic to flow into these smaller, community based businesses.
He explained that once there are several businesses in a certain area, it will attract customers as they see that the neighborhood and its businesses are thriving. Someone will Google “Starbucks near me” once they are in the area and when they drive through the neighborhood they will see all types of storefronts that might allow them to be curious about checking out one day.
“If I weren’t familiar with the area and had the choice between Starbucks and a local business, I would most likely get my coffee from Starbucks,” he said. “It’s a popular company and of course people will stick to what they know.”
Take a look at where all the Cafe’s in Bridgeport at located via Google MyMaps:
Starbucks is ahead in the monopolistic competition and Kekic continues to comment on how due to their success, they can further continue to overpricely charge drinks and continue to stay ahead of the competition.
“The chances of Jackalope, Bridgeport Coffee, and other local businesses failing once Starbucks moves into the neighborhood is very low,” says Kekic.
Irina and Andre Khaymovich have ran a family business supplying coffee to local retailers for six years. Business Management Masters recipient, Andre and his wife Irina have started their business in Moscow, Russia back in 2012 and are now based in Chicago
Their products are imported coffee beans from Valencia, Spain and now they supply coffee on Amazon and are testing the traffic throughout Fresh Farms.
Their coffee is popular throughout Europe. The brand has a sponsorship from Manchester United. Most of their business is from overseas as Cafe Silvestre can be easily accessible on Amazon.
According to National Real Estate Investor online article, “Amid slowing growth in an increasingly crowded market, coffee chain powerhouse Starbucks announced it will close 150 underperforming, company-operated
U.S stores in 2019… But this is a case of opening too many stores too close together”. Local grown coffee shops offer a more personable experience as does brewing your own coffee at home.
Andre and Irina themselves, are fans of Starbucks coffee as it is quick and around every corner but prefer the taste of freshly brewed at home coffee. “Branding isn’t the issue, it’s the accessibility” notes Andre.
“Time and money play a big contribution to exactly what you’re investing in”. Andre mentions. “When you’re in a hurry and need your daily fix, I can pick one out of the five Starbucks locations I have in the corner of my house and get my quick wake-up call. I don’t even stop to think that I can go out of my way to a personalizable coffee shop when Starbucks is entirely ahead as a monopoly. My coffee from Spain is tasteful, but waking up at 5 am to brew it myself, clean up, and
disturb my wife with the noise coming from the machine? The three minute walk to Starbucks directly around the corner of my job will do”.
Looking also at the poll posted on Twitter asking about locals go-to preference when it comes to coffee, Starbucks is in a major lead. Following Dunkin’ and Local Coffee Shop as far behind competitor to others. Our Twitter audience is mainly millennials, so that says a lot about who is going where.
There have been some comments going around town in regards to Starbucks having an internal policy which indicates they will offer a heavy buyout all local coffee houses within “x-distance” to prevent competition and reduce neighborhood negative connotation.
“If you have a good product, people will always find a way to come back to it” says Irina Khaymovich.