As Another UWS Starbucks Gets Set to Close, Customers Petition the CEO to Keep It Open

The Starbucks at 338 Columbus Avenue at 76th Street plans to close on January 31. But fans of the store are going all the way to the top — to CEO Kevin Johnson and longtime Starbucks head Howard Schultz — to ask them to stop the closure. The petition posted on change.org asks them to “keep our very special Starbucks open.” It was started by customer Michael Schertz.

They call it “a store which has added enormous value to our community over the years and which, far more than any other Starbucks store we’ve ever experienced, has actually embodied the human and social ideals the brand presumes to espouse.”

The petition explains that the store is centrally located near schools — serving as a kind of safe haven for kids — and the Museum of Natural History, as well as major events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the New York City Marathon.

“This doesn’t even take into account the dozens of regulars who have been coming for well over a decade, often bypassing several other coffee shops (including other Starbucks) to do so,” the petition explains. A Starbucks at 67th and Columbus also closed in 2016 — a move that was so shocking Tony Danza even asked the mayor about it. The company said last year it would be closing 150 U.S. stores.


There are a few other Starbucks near the 76th Street location.

A decade ago, Starbucks was viewed as a symbol of the homogenization of cities. But clearly, some customers have fallen in love with some individual stores. A former employee at the Starbucks on 76th tells us the store has a devoted clientele. “This Starbucks store in 76th Street is like a Cheers, everybody knows your name,” wrote Melissa Towbin in an email to West Side Rag. “People even come up to me and say ‘nice to see you Melissa.'”

As of Tuesday morning, 25 people had signed the petition.

Starbucks did not respond to requests for comment.

NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 69 comments | permalink
    1. Ethan says:

      “[Fans of the store] call it ‘a store which has added enormous value to our community over the years and which, far more than any other Starbucks store we’ve ever experienced, has actually embodied the human and social ideals the brand presumes to espouse.'”

      Talk about damning with faint praise!

      How anyone (or ones) could lament the passing of a Starbucks is a sad reflection on the current state of our society. Come on, Upper West Siders, do better.

    2. Rob G. says:

      My how times have changed. I used to curse the gods ever time a Starbucks, representing the Evil Corporate Villain, opened on the UWS. Now I look at them as homey neighborhood joints.

      I still hate their coffee though. You’ll find me at the diner counter instead.

    3. DK10 says:

      UWSers are the most boring, NIMBY, reactionary people ever. The whole UWS might as well be a strip mall suburb. Enjoy your vapid 2nd wave coffee.

      • ldp says:

        “Enjoy your vapid 2nd wave coffee” is the greatest, most smug insult I’ve heard in ages. I totally love this. I can’t stop laughing. Like “oooh, you really know how to hit them where it hurts.”

        Some TV writer is going to see this and that line is making it into a show.

        I’m trying to think of variations.

        “Enjoy your uninspired non-Peruvian Alpalca wool sweater.”

        “Enjoy your lifeless machine-made pasta.”

    4. Howard Schultz? Not his wife? Not his mother? Not any of the women in the company hierarchy?

    5. Samantha Berman says:

      I get the Safe Haven for kids around the neighborhood.
      Is there a link to the petition that can be shared?

    6. alice smythe says:

      OMG. There’s one on every corner. Their coffee is awful and expensive. Who cares.. 25 people wow.

      • Mitch Jacobs says:

        Thank you Alice. Their coffee is really bad. I miss the joints we used to have where you could get a pretty good cup of joe and a donut for two bucks and you were not part of some holy experience.

        • Maryellen Nugent says:

          We all miss those days. But this is today, and we have tried to replicate those very personal experiences by creating a special community at this particular Starbucks. It’s not about the coffee per se; it’s about a friendly, safe place that we don’t want to lose. Is that so difficult to understand?

          • B.B. says:

            Fair enough but who is going to pay to keep the lights on in this “safe haven”, if a majority of those congregating aren’t buying anything?

            Sadly for SB they’ve become associated with two things; free restrooms and WiFi. That and you can hang out there all day without buying anything. How does this work?

      • Denali Boy says:

        I have to agree. Sad commentary to petition to stop the closing of a Starbucks. Just depressing looking at all the bland chain stores infesting the neighborhood.Maybe I’m just an old guy who resents the tasteless crap encroaching on a lovely neighborhood.

    7. RobRoy says:

      You’ve got to be kidding me.

    8. Drew says:

      Don’t worry, everyone will love the new Lululemon or Patagonia store that will immediately replace it.

    9. Clay says:

      It would be great if a La Colombe would move into the spot. Then everyone would win, still a safe friendly shop with an upgrade to the coffee sold. Can we start a petition and contact Todd Carmichael?!

    10. Tostonesfix says:

      I generally don’t patronize Starbucks but it’s one of the few places we allow our 7th grade daughter to congregate with her friends after school. So I feel the pain of the parents in that area. Glad the 86th and Columbus appears safe.

    11. MONTAIGNE says:

      Petition states: “this store is a nexus with so much business potential it is staggering” and “has consistently (and never more so than currently) employed a staff that is diverse and warm and welcoming and make us feel like we’ve found a second home.”

      If there is so much “business potential” (School, parade museum, marathon) and the service is so spot-on, then WHY is the location not succeeding after over ten years??

      MUCH STRONGER COMPETITION (mostly new and likely paying similar rent to Starbucks.

      2. If this Starbucks is not generating sufficient profit, why SHOULD corporate keep it open? Petition explains: “(the location)has actually embodied the human and social ideals the brand presumes to espouse.”

      Excellent parroting of Starbucks Virtue-Signaling, Focus-Group Tested BULL-LONE-EY.

      • speaksthetruth says:

        Could be that this location has a significant amount of ‘customers’ who don’t actually buy much to support the store. Bad for business if they treat the store as a lounge where they just hang out with friends. Genuine customers probably avoid the place.

    12. Frank says:

      Why should Starbucks pay the high rent to be on a prime avenue/corner location when it can move to a side street and likely retain 90% of the business and lower its rent by 25%!?!?! Starbucks started doing this very thing a couple of years ago as leases in prime locations started coming to an end.

      There are plenty of Starbucks nearby and there are plenty of other places to get a coffee or muffin in the area – Joe’s, Blue Bottle, Levain, Bagle Talk, Lenwich, Zuckers, Joe the Juice, Black Press,… and of course street carts.

    13. Veronica says:

      Oh, is the a Starbucks there? I didn’t notice.

    14. ben says:

      With so many local shops/smaller chains around, why do people still go to starbucks for their equally over-priced but most importantly terrible coffee?

    15. michael says:

      Seriously? Da Capo is a block down on 76th. Now the loss of Ceasar’s pizza on the other hand, is something to be upset about.

    16. Jose Habib says:

      Looking at the map, I kind of understand, given the 3 other locations immediately north, west, and south.

    17. Eric says:

      Stop buying mass chain coffee, support small business. Walk your lazy ass the next block.

    18. Ricky Wallace says:

      Irving Farm Roasters is the best, and it’s near 80th and Broadway.

    19. B.W. says:

      It’s not like there aren’t 100 other Starbucks dotting the UWS. Also? Their coffee is awful and overpriced.

    20. LBWA says:

      Can we instead start a petition to open an independent coffee shop with the same goals?

    21. Allyson says:

      Keep it open!!!

    22. Maryellen Nugent says:

      I realize there are cynics (haters) who prefer other coffee joints and/or love to bash UWSers. Then please keep walking — but quit criticizing because you refuse to recognize that we’ve created a little community at this particular Starbucks. We want to keep it. I guess you’d prefer another CVS or bank???

      • Eric says:

        Cut starbucks the monthly rent check then

      • Bmc says:

        Duane Reade would be nice…we don’t have enough of them!!!

      • Carnival Canticle says:

        You may have created “a little community” but Starbucks foots the rent bill for your social club. I walk past that branch several times a week on my way home from JCC and it is usually full of people using the premises as an office, a reading room, a homework place or a second living room. Nice,but unless the members of your community are buying regular refills on their crappucinos, it’s not easy for the business to survive. Would your community be willing to help keep its clubhouse open by paying a small hourly fee for the use of its chairs, tables, wifi and electrical outlets? I thought not.

    23. Ish Kabibble says:

      Such sad and bitter people commenting. Take a look in the mirror.

    24. soldier says:

      Safe haven for kids = bunch of teens NOT spending money but taking up a lot of space and making a lot of noise. It looks like that area of the UWS is big on petitions, demands and protests – protesting an educational building of the museum but demanding that a national chain keeps store open.
      Can people get over themselves for a week or so, just to see how it feels.

      • Tostonesfix says:

        I load money on my daughter’s Starbucks app every week. Kids spend money. Why not just listen to and respect other people’s opinions and concerns. It’s easy and lazy to trash Starbucks or other chain establishments. My kids and their friends like going to Starbucks after school. It’s part of our life.

        I do agree that if the economics don’t work for Starbucks, then they have every right to close. The petition is just an attempt by some of our neighbors to save the store.

        People keep going on here and saying Starbucks and such are “ruining” the UWS. But you know what makes the UWS unattractive to me: Entitled people who think New York is their own personal playground and should cater to their particular tastes. Have some compassion.

    25. Steph says:

      Better a Starbucks than another T-Mobil or bank! Or worse, remaining empty for years.

    26. Leon says:

      I still don’t understand why people don’t invest in a Keurig and make their coffee at home and save a ton of money and time, and the coffee often tastes better!

    27. Jo Ann says:

      Why are they closing? Might it be the insane rise in the rent? Maybe petition the landlord.

    28. AC57 says:

      This neighborhood could use fewer Starbucks – there are better ways to utilize those retail spaces instead of planting a Starbucks every 3 blocks. A small business coffee shop is always welcome, along with other small restaurants. And I will bet that Stern’s project on 81st and Broadway will have a Starbucks in it. When you cut off one head, one gets replaced promptly.

      Not that I would step into a Starbucks ever – 16 years of life, have not once ordered anything from them. Proud of it. I don’t even drink coffee either – I go to the smaller coffee shops for pastries… or picking up coffee for my friends because they’re too lazy to get it themselves. So quite frankly, in my opinion, this closure is welcome. There are far too many of them in the neighborhood I was not happy when they opened a Starbucks at 21 West End… at all. Such a prime and nice site, and they had to waste it.

    29. Susan Bien says:

      That Starbucks is my coffee place. Plz dont close it. No another empty store on that block. Not good!!

    30. B.B. says:

      “The petition explains that the store is centrally located near schools — serving as a kind of safe haven for kids — and the Museum of Natural History, as well as major events like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the New York City Marathon.”

      That in a nutshell is Starbucks problem, and has been so for some time. Tons of people congregate in its stores (often for hours on end), but purchase very little in comparison. Things began to go really down hill when SB rolled out free WiFi.

      Many SB locations have become defacto senior, after school, homeless centers; libraries (people simply grab a NYT or other media that is supposed to be for sale and read away), and of course home offices.

      You go into a SB and much of the day nearly all seating is taken up by persons who have camped out for the day with their laptops. They spread their “work” around the tables and dare anyone to touch anything when they get up to use the restroom (also free). All this from buying one drink (if that).

      When SB closes these same persons simply sit down outside with their tablets/laptops and continue using the free WiFi.

      Many SB locations in Manhattan opened a decade or two ago. Now their leases are coming up for renewal and SB like other retail is facing a very different market.

      SB doesn’t get any sort of discount on rent, taxes, fees and other costs of doing business in this city for providing “social service” free space.

      Minimum wage as of last week in NYC is now $15/hr. Taxes have gone up, water, sewage, etc… and every other cost as well.

      City and state have also instituted all sorts of social mandates on businesses such as PTO, scheduling requirements and so forth. While SB in general is known as a company that provided generous benefits for what basically are retail/service jobs, something has to give.

      SB’s stock hasn’t been doing well lately and indeed the company is facing headwinds:

      https://investorplace.com/2019/01/4-reasons-for-you-to-avoid-starbucks-stock-for-the-time-being/

      • Eric says:

        This is SPOT ON…
        The SB on 81st street is disgusting cesspool of homeless lunatics

      • Michael says:

        It is in fact what makes Starbucks great. I love how on the one hand Starbucks is ‘evil’ for not being mom&pop and turning a profit and on the other you complain about a place that brings together students and entrepreneurs and yes provides a shelter for the homeless people you know doubt pretend to care about as long as you don’t need to get a whiff of them.

        The space Starbucks gives for people to interact and lounge and write and talk and yes, pee, is the embodiment of ‘Community’. So which is it? They suck because they make money or the people who are sitting in the seat YOU want when it is ok to drink their evil coffee suck?

      • Cato says:

        — “Things began to go really down hill when SB rolled out free WiFi.”

        I absolutely, totally agree. Starbucks used to be OK (I especially liked the original on Broadway at 87th Street), but I rarely go into a Starbucks anymore since you can’t sit down to enjoy a cup of coffee.

        Whatever else may be going on, Starbucks should realize that providing free wi-fi has cost them a lot of revenue, for reasons that B.B. states very nicely. They’ve turned into a social-services and workplace provider without making any money in return.

    31. John Hall says:

      You should close both this Starbucks as well as the one on 73rd Street and Columbus Ave. the bathroom on 73rd and Columbus is no longer available to the public. The bathroom on 76th Street is always broken. CLOSE BOTH STARBUCKS

    32. Andy says:

      Wait. So now UWSiders are petitioning for a big, greedy national chain to keep one of its stores OPEN in the neighborhood? How un-woke.

    33. Please sign the petition to keep this store open at bit.do/Starbucks76

    34. Anon says:

      Fortunately, I very time I start to have a soft spot for liberals I stumble across the true heart of the heart of one as I have done here. And you wonder why Trump? This comment thread is the type of incubator groupthink that made him possible. Enjoy another term YOU asked for it.

    35. Ezra says:

      It’s a shame they will have to walk to 75th or 77th st.

    36. ken stapleton says:

      Open up a Ray’s Pizza there instead.

    37. Jo Baldwin says:

      Whether the SB in question or of any other SBs I drop into, it’s always tea I order. (Only coffee I drink maybe twice a month is at home and it’s Folgers Instant.)SBs coffee is certainly not the best and like most everything dribbled out of corporate America it’s (insert your own . . .).
      And as for petitioning the landlord: Who is the landlord? Where does he live? What’s his phone number? The NYC real estate industry is no different than corporate America. And one guy runs it all: Ben Dover.

    38. Rebecca vozz says:

      Are you kidding me my God it’s only a Starbucks they’re like Mc. Donald’s on every corner. If the company decided to close 150 stores well that’s there decision. Stop being so needy just walk down to 81st and Broadway things change buildings are being built all over the city all over the country petition that!!! The high rise industry is ruining the beauty all over the world. Just let it go or just put your money together and as a community buy it as a franchise or will you be able to and then you can do what ever you want sit,chat, hang. That’s all I have to say goodness gracious.

    39. Robert says:

      Guess what folks, stop the presses call the TV news I have made a discovery. Its called a coffee maker I mostly drink tea, but have this ingenious device in my kitchen, I put grounds and water in at one end and out the other end comes……wait for it……coffee LOL
      How any of these starbucks or similar places stay open is beyond me. Their coffee is terrible, and very expensive. Its only palatable with the extras they add to cover up its burnt bitter taste.
      The reason they have closed store, and yes 86 & Col is on the edge, is that people go in the am buy one cup of coffee and sit there using the free wifi all day. Many of the stores on B’way have a policy that every once in a while they shut off the wifi until a lot of people that have been there all day buy something.

    40. Kyle says:

      If Starbucks can’t afford the rent, who can? But, let me guess, it’s Amazon’s fault, right??

      • rikitikitembo says:

        Fyi – the reason more people don’t make coffee at home is because a lot of people are home ALL DAY and need to get out.. and there are very few places to get out and maybe hang out for a bit that don’t cost an arm and a leg for food or movie or whatever on a rainy day.

        Also, within a 7-8 block radius of that location, there has been a noticeable influx of Joe Coffee or Joe and the Juice which charge $3.15 and up for a freaking demi-tasse of drip coffee. same for Blue Bottle and Billys and De Capo. Those places are exorbitant. At least 30% more expensive.

        RAther than chronic loiterers, whenever I go to that Starbucks on 76th, the line is practically out the door and all seats are full of people eating/drinking. Or strollers taking up too much space.

        The major problem with that location, imo, is the super-slow service. I can’t tell you how long I’ve had to wait when there is NO line, and/or when there is. They often have about 3-5 staffers, most of whom are doing nothing or are oblivious to customers. It’s just ironic that the problem that’s most likely killing the profitability of that location is Starbucks own staff.