New Starbucks to open on Esplanade in spring

A+man+walks+past+construction+outside+the+Business+Administration+Building+Wednesday%2C+Nov.+15%2C+2017.+A+new+Starbucks+will+open+on+the+Esplanade+for+the+spring+semester.%C2%A0

A man walks past construction outside the Business Administration Building Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. A new Starbucks will open on the Esplanade for the spring semester. 

Dylan Reynolds

Coffee-loving students will soon have yet another option for getting their caffeine fix.

Aramark began construction last week on a new full-service Starbucks near the Business Administration Building, and the university said it should be finished next semester.

“The target date for opening is April 2018,” said Shay Little, the vice president of student affairs.

Little described the coffee shop as a typical-looking Starbucks with a long counter, some seating and a door facing east of the Esplanade.

“It’s going to be its own structure,” she said, noting it will not be attached to the Business Administration Building.

The nearly 2,300 square-foot shop is designed to “fit well with the brick of the existing building and around campus, but still reflect the Starbucks charm,” according to an email from Kristin Anderson, the university’s director of external media relations.

The idea was initially proposed in January during Aramark’s bid presentation to partner with Dining Services.

“They felt that adding Starbucks would be a real asset to the campus community,” Little said. “I do know from looking at other campus dining programs and how they have enhanced their programs … that many will say that Starbucks is the most popular brand of any food product on college campuses.”

She said Aramark is funding the project, and student fees won’t increase because of the construction.

Aramark has a long-standing relationship with Starbucks, and Bloomberg reported in 2014 that coffee accounts for roughly 18 percent of their on-campus sales.

The two companies work together to choose the most effective locations for shops, said Jeff Gradert, a Starbucks business development manager.

“They’re methodically planned out to be situated in locations that the majority of the students will have easy access to,” Gradert said.

The construction of the Esplanade Starbucks began just one week after the university’s first full-service Starbucks opened in the University Library. Aramark was also responsible for upgrading that location.

Meanwhile, off campus, a development company may have plans to bring another Starbucks to Main Street.

Kent Investors, LLC is trying to build a retail plaza at 1005 E. Main St., the currently vacant location across from campus near Terrace Drive. A map from LRC Realty, a parent company of Kent Investors, shows a Starbucks store, according to reports in the Record-Courier. Tenants have not been officially announced.

The plan has been met with controversy, and neighborhood residents are concerned with the amount of traffic the retail plaza could draw.

Kent residents are appealing a judge’s decision to allow the project to proceed. Judge Becky Doherty of the Portage County Common Pleas Court ruled that Kent’s planning commission could not deny plans that are in accordance with zoning laws.

If the plaza is built and does house a Starbucks, there will be four full-service locations within one block of Kent State, plus the Bean Scene in Olson Hall that serves Starbucks coffee.

While these new coffee shops promise convenience for students, they pose a threat to smaller cafes.

“Eventually, you’re not going to have anything but giant chain stores because we just can’t compete,” said Jenn Richards, a co-owner of Scribbles Coffee Company. “I can’t fault Starbucks, they treat their people well, but unfortunately, it’s (damaging) for small businesses that are directly around them.”

Richards said she hopes the university doesn’t stop engaging with local businesses.

“I just hope Kent State will continue to reach out to the local community and invite the local community in,” she said.

Dylan Reynolds is the business and neighborhood reporter. Contact him at [email protected]