Starbucks addicts in New Haven will soon have a new option for their daily fix as the chain prepares to open a second store downtown, 1003.2 feet away from the existing High St. location.
The new cafe, on the corner of Chapel and Church streets across from the New Haven Green, will join a city already saturated with coffee joints. Although the coffee chain has often been criticized for putting its independent competitors out of business, both community members and local coffee shop employees said they are not worried Starbucks is threatening local business — and they say that it may even boost the local economy by adding jobs and foot traffic downtown.
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The company said in a statement that the new Starbucks will also include an outdoor seating area. The company said it is not ruling out further expansion in the city in the coming years, and new stores will open based on market demand.
“We are excited to open our second New Haven store to be located on Chapel Square,” the statement said. “Starbucks will continue with our expansion plans and open stores where our customers want and expect us to be.”
Starbucks said it opens an average of six new stores a day worldwide, including drive-throughs and kiosk locations.
Joe Gilgallon, an employee at Koffee Too?, said he does not think a new Starbucks will have a significant negative impact on independent coffee shops in the Elm City. He said most cities surrounding New Haven — such as Hamden and Orange — all have Starbucks locations, but local coffee stores continue to capture a large share of those cities’ markets.
“I think they will end up pushing themselves too far on people,” Gilgallon said. “We have a lot of loyal customers. Almost every night I see the same people.”
Executive Director of Town Green Special Services District Scott Healy said he thinks the coffee giant’s expansion will increase foot traffic in an area that has a population of about 8,000 within a short radius of the future store. Healy said he does not think the new store will compete directly with other cafes in the district and it may even encourage other entrepreneurs to invest in the neighborhood.
“When a Starbucks takes a risk on a corner, it usually means other retailers [will] follow,” he said. “Any healthy retail environment has a combination of local talent and national companies. Starbucks is not moving in to invade the market and take away business from the local coffee shops.”
In the past, New Haven has been known for its intense local market for coffee shops of all kinds, said Anstress Farwell, president of the New Haven Urban Design League. A study published a few years ago found that New Haven had the largest concentration of Dunkin’ Donuts retail outlets in the state, she said.
But Farwell said that while she is pleased a new shop will soon open in a vacant lot, she would have preferred to see the city’s post office, which lost its location on Orange St. this summer, built there instead. But she acknowledged that the decision to put Starbucks ahead of the post office was beyond the city’s control.
Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 said he is also happy Starbucks will expand. The company has been consistently praised for being a responsible employer, he said, and will provide the city with new livable-wage jobs that offer health care for all employees, including part-time workers.
“I don’t see any reason not to be excited about it,” he said. “It is more jobs for people in New Haven, and it is more people who are walking on foot in the downtown area.”
There are currently more than 12,000 Starbucks shops in 37 countries throughout North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim, according to the company’s Web site.