With Starbucks coming to 16 W. Union St. in summer 2018, local coffee shops are buckling down to keep their current customers from switching to name brand coffee.
Chris and Angie Pyle, owners of Donkey Coffee, 17 W. Washington St., said Donkey Coffee is ready for Starbucks and hopes that its presence will solidify the community’s support of Donkey Coffee and other local coffee shops.
“Donkey will continue to focus on its mission as a local business to promote fairly traded coffee which helps traditionally disadvantaged coffee growers and to provide space for local art, music and community gatherings,” Pyle said in a statement.
Ohio University Spokesperson Jim Sabin said the number of drinks university coffee shops serve is “not available,” but the new opening of Starbucks should not affect OU’s coffee shops.
The Front Room, Steam Station and Southside Espresso Bar serve Starbucks drinks through a “We Proudly Serve” contract. Sabin said the contract is in place through February 2019.
“As for any potential impact, the Athens community has for many years boasted a broad variety of shops that sell coffee and other beverages, along with other fare, including Ohio University’s successful outlets, and we expect that to continue,” Sabin said in an email.
Freshman Zach Zabonik said having a Starbucks Uptown “would make things a lot easier.”
“I’ve noticed Front Room gets very busy in the mornings,” he said. “This store would definitely help ease the amount of foot traffic.”
Guy Philips, managing partner of PM Management, which owns 16 W. Union St., said the company will be a because it will create approximately 23 new jobs, and the employees will make above average wages.
“We are also impressed with Starbucks nationwide commitment to hiring military veterans and their families,” Phillips said in an email. “This is a very successful company that serves great coffee and is a good corporate citizen to the communities it serves.”
Natalie Hunter has been the manager of Court Street Coffee, 67 S. Court St., for more than five years. She said when she received the news about the new Starbucks, she was not excited.
“It will definitely change the coffee landscape in town, but we got a really positive reaction from our customers,” Hunter said. “Everybody seems very determined to continue to support us, and we feel very lucky that we are getting very good support.”
Court Street Coffee will not have a direct response to the Starbucks in terms of changing how the shop does business, Hunter said.
“Anytime you introduce new business into a town things are going to change,” Hunter said. “We might have to work a little harder to make sure we are reaching out to new customers since brand recognition is a huge thing with Starbucks. We plan to keep doing what we do best, which is brew good coffee and have excellent customer service.”
Hunter said she hopes customers will continue to remain loyal and will continue to come back.
The only other Starbucks in Athens County is located inside of the Kroger on East State Street.
“It will be nice to have a legitimate Starbucks that has all of their options,” senior Emily Gall said. “I’m mad I won’t get to go to this store because I’m graduating. I always have to drive to Kroger when I want Starbucks.”
Flannery Jewell contributed to this report.