News


Midtown Starbucks store shutters without explanation

Landlord is searching for new tenant to take over space

After nearly two decades in Palo Alto's Midtown neighborhood, the Starbucks store on Middlefield Road closed its doors for good on Jan. 25, a representative for the store's landlord confirmed Thursday.

The Starbucks at 2775 Middlefield Road had been in the community for 18 to 19 years, according to real-estate broker Tim Foy of Midtown Realty. He did not know why the store left the neighborhood, but said there were no changes to the lease agreement prior to the closure.

The Midtown location is likely one of 150 underperforming stores in "densely penetrated markets" Starbucks planned to close in fiscal year 2019, according to a June press release.

A Starbucks shop at 863 El Camino Real in Menlo Park, was reportedly closed on Feb. 1, according to a poster on Yelp.com.

"These stores are special, to our customers and our partners, and we remain committed to continuing to serve the Palo Alto and Menlo Park communities, offering a warm and welcoming environment for people to connect," a Starbucks spokesperson said Friday in an email to the Weekly. Employees who worked at both stores have been transferred to neighboring locations.

Just a day before the Palo Alto store closure, the Seattle-based company announced "solid operating results" in its first fiscal quarter that wrapped up on Dec. 30. Starbucks expects to see its stores grow by 6-7 percent around the world, of which 3-4 percent will occur in the U.S.

The building owner is in talks with potential tenants, according to Foy. Under city zoning laws, the space prominently situated at the corner of Middlefield Road and Colorado Avenue has to be occupied by either a retail store or a restaurant.

"We would love to find someone who would equally complement and kind of enhance the community to come in," said Foy, whose office neighbors the former coffee shop.

Midtown resident Greer Stone, who lives near the Starbucks, called the coffee shop's closure "heartbreaking."

"I remember studying for the finals there when I went to Paly, and then studying for the bar exam and for the law school finals there, and meeting up with friends on the weekends," Stone said. "A lot of personal memories for me in that Starbucks."

Stone, who is a member of the Midtown Residents Association, said he had recently met with Foy and Molly Foy-Rich (also an agent at Midtown Realty) to discuss the future of the property. He was reassured that Starbucks did not leave because of any rent increases or any other actions by the property owners. The company just announced its intent to close the Midtown shop without giving either Foy or the employees any specific reasons.

Stone said the property owners said they would like to see another community-serving retailer at the site, whether it's a coffee shop, a wine bar or (Stone's suggestion) a beer garden. This vision, he said, is consistent with that of area residents, he said.

"One thing we talked about was wanting to bring vibrancy back to the Midtown Center -- something to make it more of a destination for the city, rather than what it is now, which is more of a lunchtime location," Stone said.

The biggest challenge, he said, is attracting the right retailer. Some prospective tenants have looked at the site and expressed concern about inadequate parking, he said.

Stone said he and other members of the association believe the challenge is exacerbated by an apparent "disconnect in the city," which is trying to encourage more retail while also discouraging people from driving. As part of the latter goal, the council has been relaxing parking requirements for new developments and rethinking its plans for new parking facilities (the council recently paused its plan to build a new downtown garage).

The Midtown property that until recently hosted Starbucks is a perfect example, Stone said, of where "both of these ideas don't go hand in hand." He noted that, until recently, the area had a two-hour parking limit. Since that limit was removed, office workers from nearby businesses parked in the area throughout the day, leaving few spaces for customers.

"If we don't have adequate parking, we can't attract good retail and community-serving retail," Stone said. "The city needs to get smart and provide parking so that we can attract the type of retail we want to see."

According to a store locator map on the Starbucks website, there are still 10 stores in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Stanford University and Stanford Shopping Center.

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Comments

10 people like this
Posted by GUS L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2019 at 4:45 pm

Never went in that store, surprised it lasted as long as it did, Bring Back Bergmanns...


18 people like this
Posted by Sgt Schultz
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Feb 28, 2019 at 5:19 pm

Had to do it. Howard Schultz needs the money. Ain't easy running as the one thing no one wants - a centrist.

Maybe they'll start serving waffles. After listening to him answer some basic questions, it seems appropriate.


13 people like this
Posted by racism
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2019 at 5:31 pm

Starbucks lost a lot of customers after their recent series of high-profile racism incidents. In response, they recently announced that they were closing 150 stores, especially in areas where there were too close to each other or less profitable. This one probably didn't make the cut. How many Starbucks does Palo Alto have now?


16 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2019 at 6:31 pm

I think the reason is parking. There is no parking. People can’t just stop by and pick up a cup of something. Plus higher minimum wage. The store probably cannot sustain itself economically anymore.


29 people like this
Posted by I can see it
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 28, 2019 at 6:59 pm

I went by that location a few times a month ... Sometimes tried to go in, but all parking was taken, so i turned around and left without even getting out of the car.
The very few spaces were usually taken by the people sitting inside for HOURS with their laptops, sipping on one drink, hogging chairs and parking spots.
Very discouraging!


4 people like this
Posted by One Less Starbucks Is Terrific
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2019 at 7:06 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Feb 28, 2019 at 11:10 pm

This is very old news. It has been discussed on NextDoor for months. Starbucks announced the closing of 150 stores more than 6 months ago.

Nobody should have been surprised, but some people wasted their time circulating a petition to keep it open and some people falsely blamed the landlord for increasing the rent.


12 people like this
Posted by Another reason?
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2019 at 12:16 am

Also, the recent Yelp reviews for this Starbucks's customer service have been very negative ...


3 people like this
Posted by Starbust
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 1, 2019 at 1:50 am

The Starbucks in Menlo Park on El Camino closed, but there is a sign on the door telling customers to visit the Starbucks in the nearby Safeway. Same sign posted at the Starbucks which just closed in Mountain View Blossom Valley shopping center. The days of a Starbucks on every corner are long gone. I like their coffee and snacks but their lunch items were lackluster. I hope Joe and The Juice take over these locations.


12 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 1, 2019 at 6:08 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

I, for one, will miss it. I used to stop there for coffee / a cookie bicycling to Walter Hays Elementary in the morning. Parking was never a problem, especially at 7:30 am.

I found the folks working there pleasant, always greeting me in the morning with a smile and a "Good Morning" The coffee was hot, the cookies were delicious, and again, I never had a problem with parking.

Thanks for listening. Starbucks - best of luck.

(PS: If you want to avoid parking issues . . . ride a bicycle)


20 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2019 at 8:02 am

I much prefer Palo Alto Cafe so won't miss it. I just want to know when Mikes will reopen. We need a good place for dinner and a glass of wine or a beer without having to get in the car.


6 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2019 at 9:30 am

Philz just down the street probably put them out of business.


3 people like this
Posted by Reid
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 1, 2019 at 9:58 am

I hope Philz moves into this spot. Their location on Loma Verde is so dark and cramped compared to the downtown location. The Starbucks location would be a huge improvement. Although, the garden area at the Loma Verde location is nice in the summer.


13 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 1, 2019 at 12:52 pm

jh is a registered user.

I hope that either the mid-town residents association or the retailers get their act together and petition the city to put back the two hour parking. Essential for retail to exist in this town. I wonder who requested and had the influence to get the city to remove the 2 hour parking.


8 people like this
Posted by End of times!!
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2019 at 3:01 am

That people are heartbroken and others sad about a Starbucks closing is beyond my grasp of life.


3 people like this
Posted by Starbust
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

It is sad when a local business closes, especially one that is gathering place for many people and employed local people. I am not finding that difficult to grasp.


6 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 3, 2019 at 12:19 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

The city does not support parking. They want us to accept their alternatives to driving. These alternatives (public transport, ride-sharing, and of course biking) may work for some people some of the time but there is little data to show that they are really adequate.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2019 at 1:12 pm

Wow, I thought as I noticed free parking space in the Starbuck's parking lot
and pulled in to get a brownie - pretty much the one indulgence I allow
myself from Starbuck's.

Then I looked up and everything looked different, and through the glass
doors the whole place was gutted. What happened?

Thinking back I realized this was never a good location for a coffee store, or
anything else that relies and people coming and going in cars. That parking
lot was pure torture.

Looking back it seems odd that the city would OK a business such as Starbuck's
in that location since it created a mini traffic jam at that corner every day more
of the day.

It would be nice if they were moving over and taking over that other coffee
place with the rude and grumpy owner and the way too-high prices but I am
sure that is too much to hope for.


14 people like this
Posted by Bye Bye Starbucks...We'll Miss You!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 3, 2019 at 1:22 pm

> That people are heartbroken and others sad about a Starbucks closing is beyond my grasp of life.

Like mourning the closure of a McDonald's. *LOL*


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 3, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Better not close my favorite McDonald's. Coffee only $1.00 (plus tax).



5 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 3, 2019 at 3:43 pm

>> > That people are heartbroken and others sad about a Starbucks closing is beyond my grasp of life.

Maybe those were the people who were lucky enough to get a seat to sit and enjoy their coffee and wifi.

In all the years that places has been there I never once was able to find a seat to relax and enjoy a coffee or wifi ... it was always to-go.

Try to find a parking place to fit into. Then exhale hard and try to get out of my car given the 9 inches of space between me and the next car. Then try to get back into my car with coffee and snack and then try to maneuver out.

Allow double or triple time for guests or friends or standing in that infernal line with no place to sit.

Half the time I'd go there, take one look at the line and just leave.

Surprised it lasted as long as it did, ba-bye! ;-)


15 people like this
Posted by A Black Man Speaketh
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 3, 2019 at 3:48 pm

> "That people are heartbroken and others sad about a Starbucks closing is beyond my grasp of life"

> "Better not close my favorite McDonald's. Coffee only $1.00 (plus tax)."

When in Midtown I just go to the 7-11 (next to Round table Pizza). People make too big a deal over coffee & I am not a coffee snob.


8 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2019 at 3:58 pm

Before 7-11 there was The Variety Store. Before Safeway there was A&W. Before Philz there was The Donut Shop. Before Lowe’s and Home Depot there was Peninsula Hardware. Before Starbucks there was Petes cafe in Bergman’s. Fresh bread and pastries to die for at The Bakery in front of Bergman’s. Life goes on, Palo Alto descends further into the commercial abyss.


14 people like this
Posted by A Once Quiet Town
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 3, 2019 at 6:53 pm

> Palo Alto descends further into the commercial abyss.

The 'new' Palo Alto is a far cry from the one many of us grew up in.

New money, new mega-chain stores & [portion removed] have radically altered the overall PA landscape & vibe.

We can't go back or change things to the way it used to be.

Our only option is to stomach it or move away.


8 people like this
Posted by Heartbroken ... NOT! LoL
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 3, 2019 at 11:55 pm

Tombstone in front reads: I was a commercial failure but conned a few heartbroken (today) locals to believe I was their home.


2 people like this
Posted by Starbucked
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 4, 2019 at 10:29 am

Looks like Starbucks on El Camino in Menlo Park has also closed.


11 people like this
Posted by Bean
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2019 at 10:45 am

I knew someone who worked at this Starbucks; she told me about the planned closure about a year ago. So it's surprising that the store didn't warn customers with a sign or two. Parking wasn't that bad, as long as you parked out in the back (near the Wells Fargo atm).

Philz down the road stole the coffee drinkers, and Teaspoon took a lot of the after school Greene students away, so it's not surprising that the store was underperforming and marked for closure. I'm sure rent was ridiculously high with such a high-profile location.

(My understanding is that the employees were all taken care of with transfers to other stores, so that's good to hear.)


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 4, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Measuring out our lives with coffee spoons ...


3 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 8, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Anyone realize their lease was increased by more than 40%, as well as the gym next door? Any coincidence they both closed doors at the same time? A couple other place around there mentioning they might have to close up as well soon as their leases are increasing by huge margins.


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 8, 2019 at 8:48 pm

> Anyone realize their lease was increased by more than 40%

This is what is really killing Palo Alto. There is just runaway greed.
Restaurants cannot afford to be good or have good service. I am amazed
that any stay open at all.

I think we need to have a policy like there was on Fresh Market that
landlords who are going to own commercial space in Palo Alty must
keep it rented, or pay a fine while it is vacant to suppress this raising
of rents. Are there other policies that would work towards this end?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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