The news that Starbucks would abandon one of its four Bay Ridge locations was greeted like the classic David vs. Goliath story in the neighborhood this week — and we all know who the David is.
“Thank you, God!” said Blake Barkett, whose family owns Sally’s Coffee Shop on 85th Street and Third Avenue, after hearing that the Starbucks on Third Avenue near 84th Street would close next March.
Like many Ridgites interviewed this week, Barkett had little sympathy for the financial woes that are forcing the Seattle-based coffee giant to shutter 600 stores nationwide.
“They deserve to close,” he said. “That’s what they get for coming so close to so many mom-and-pop coffee shops.”
Neighborhood opinion about Starbucks wasn’t always as bitter as the chain’s famous coffee. Indeed, when the first Bay Ridge Starbucks opened in 1999 on 92nd Street, many residents were relieved that their sleepy burg could finally enjoy the caffeinated concoctions that urbanites all over the country had been taking for granted for years.
But when the 84th Street location opened last December — the fourth in a 10-block radius — many Ridgites began to feel that the green mermaid had become an octopus.
“I grumble when I see their logo, which is wherever I go now,” said Nazi Shekarchi.
Starbucks admits that it may have oversaturated the market with its grande caramel macchiatos, with stores so close together that they cut into each other’s business. But the move to close one of the locations came as a surprise to many given the company’s commitment back in November to actually open 75 new stores in Brooklyn over the next three years.
“Without a doubt, I thought they would survive,” said Mary Ann Kearns, co-owner of Caffe Café, a coffee shop across the street from the closing Starbucks.
Kearns was relieved to have one less competitor on the block, but, then again, her business hadn’t been affected too much by the coffee giant.
“Starbucks drinkers like Starbucks coffee; they weren’t really coming here anyway,” she said.
Of course, customers at the doomed store were dismayed to learn of its demise.
“That’s a real shame,” said Rich Sullivan, who had never been inside a Starbucks before it came to Bay Ridge several years ago. “It’s been an improvement to the neighborhood. It’s a great place to just relax and hang out.”
Despite the gloomy expressions of some Starbucks customers, they have nothing to worry about, says frequent customer MaryAnne LaBasso.
“There’s always another one down the street,” she said.
Indeed, even with this location’s closing, there will still be three more Starbucks in the neighborhood: on 92nd Street and Third Avenue, 75th Street and Third Avenue, and 86th Street and Fifth Avenue.