Another UWS Starbucks Looks Like It’s On the Way Out

These are bitter times for fans of a certain Seattle coffee chain.

The Starbucks at 2621 Broadway at 99th Street appears to be closing, as realtors have slapped a For Rent sign on the window and an employee told one customer that its days are numbered.

It would be the second Starbucks in the neighborhood to close this year. At the first location, on Columbus and 76th, patrons put together a petition to try to stop the closure, to no avail. Another Starbucks that closed on 67th and Columbus in 2016 left such a hole in the neighborhood that Tony Danza complained to the mayor.

Steve Smith, our tipster, saw the For Rent sign at the 99th Street location and asked a barista, who confirmed it was closing. He also spoke to the realtor, who said the space was indeed on the market. We also inquired at the Starbucks, but the employee we spoke to didn’t know. Starbucks’ corporate office did not respond to a request for comment.

Some people are taking the looming closure of another Starbucks hard. As tipster Jonathan wrote “Oh, no, no Starbucks.”

This Starbucks appears to have just opened in 2013.

FOOD, NEWS, OPEN/CLOSED | 85 comments | permalink
    1. diddy_alliddy says:

      Lousy coffee. Loud space. Loutish service. Good riddance.

      • Minx says:

        diddy_alliddy what are you going on about? Starbucks is a known quantity and a perfect place to hang out on a wet day or meet people. I live near to this location and it was fine also it’s better to have an occupied store front than a vacant one.

      • dannyboy says:

        Agree about the coffee, my home brewed is 200% better.

        Also, laptop hobos sit at tables all day, acting employed.

      • Ish Kabibble says:

        You seem like fun.

      • msgrandoni says:

        I agree-worse coffee in the world

      • Jack says:

        Anger Management perhaps??

      • Muggs McGuinness says:

        Yeah, let’s put a 7-Eleven in there, great coffee. divine Slurpees, and nobody knows how to make a pizza like them!

      • Jay says:

        I won’t defend the coffee but staff at this Starbucks was always cool in my experience. And I can assure we laptop hobos are gainfully employed, more often than not. 🙂

    2. Lisa Berger says:

      From what I’ve heard, these closures are because Starbucks real estate policy is to save money by taking over sublet leases so when the original leases run out, they vacate.

      • sam says:

        I have also understood that Starbucks is generally aiming to close a lot of its larger-footprint stores in favor of opening smaller stores – the smaller stores sell just as much coffee, but cost much less in rent and don’t have quite as much of the ‘freeloader’ problem that the larger places suffer from (aka starbucks isn’t paying giant rents for people to sit there all day and work).

        So I think we’ll see more and more turnover of these spaces as leases end, and movement of starbucks locations to smaller footprints. I doubt we’ll end up with actually fewer stores overall.

        • Jose Habib says:

          This location is one of the smallest around though. They don’t even have a bathroom.

          • Tom D. says:

            It also had no power outlets available to customers. Although I live close by, I hardly ever went there because of that.

            The layout was not especially congenial to “laptop hobos” as someone snarked above, but if you want to sit down with your laptop for a short while while you drink your coffee, you’d like to know that there’s an outlet available if your battery’s low.

            Hence going to 103rd St instead, a mere 6 blocks away. Or the one down around 94th St.

            • Ll says:

              It’s weird because they removed the wall outlets at the Starbucks on 93rd,at least by the table and most of the tables there are gone too.

              I love Joe’s.

              I have no issue staying at Starbucks for hours on end, given their prices. I’ve noticed a comeback of independent coffee places around, which I prefer.

              Also. Starbucks on 87th, 93rd, 94th, 99thand 103rd? Of course something was gonna close.

              I think the one on like 110 closed, right?

              Anyone remember the Starbucks by the 87th street 1 train reataura t? That was back when there was the 1/9

      • B.B. says:

        SB announced a policy months (years?) ago to stockholders and others it would be closing under performing stores. That is exactly what is happening regardless if lease is primary or sublet.

        SB invaded NYC some twenty or more years ago now. They rapidly expanded at a time when the RE market was vastly different than today. Now that leases are coming up for renewal SB is in same boats as other retailers; facing increases in rent. That and or when numbers are crunched a good number of stores just don’t produce sales per square foot to justify their existence.

        This being said SB has far too many locations often all clustered close together. That strategy may have been justified and or worked back when SB was busy expanding and crushing competition, but now with higher rent, labor and other costs it is a different story.

        Would love to see the books on some of these SB locations. Most seem full of people loitering/hanging out sucking up free WiFi and or treating space as some sort of free community center.

        Have noticed SB new stores tend to be smaller and have less seating. Oh and they’ve stopped opening those more upscale SB as that wasn’t working out well for them either.

    3. Juan says:

      What is the over/under for how long this space stays empty (Halloween pop-up shops do not count)? Three years? I would hate to be a landlord in this area as it is a buyer’s market.

      • Big Earl says:

        Best part is they will raise the rent even more and then wonder why it’s sat vacant for years. Been a buyers market for years, but rents still continue to rise. Defies all laws of economics.

      • John says:

        What happened to the West Side?

      • Rahul Jain says:

        They could just charge market rate, but of course income taxes are lower when you don’t make any income and simply squat on valuable space, wasting the time, natural resources, and money the city spends on maintaining the infrastructure that serves that location. So why not waste the taxpayer’s money if people aren’t penalized for enjoying privileged ownership of natural and social wealth?

        • Jay says:

          So, you’re saying the owner wants to take in less money so that they don’t have to pay a portion of that money in taxes?

          Makes complete sense…

          Luckily, landlords generally like to make money on their asset.

    4. UWS_lifer says:

      “Real New Yorker’s” used to buy their coffee in a bodega or a Korean grocery. (By the way, where did they all go?? There used to be a Korean grocery on every corner in this city)

      Anyway, it would come in one of those blue and white cups and was watered down and awful and we loved it that way!!!:)

      If you wanted a half caf mochachino with low fat milk and an extra shot of vanilla you had to go to…..I don’t know, an ice cream shop maybe? Italian restaurants for an espresso or cappuccino but that’s about it.

      • B.B. says:

        Many of the Korean delis were owned by first or maybe second generation immigrants. Their kids went to school, got good grades, onto college and now are professionals and or otherwise in good earning careers.

        Fast forward the parents or grandparents can now sell he deli and “retire” with their well off children helping if necessary. More to the point the kids aren’t interested in nor have to work in a deli.

        You are seeing more and more Yemini/Middle Eastern, Asian or even Latino/Hispanic buying or otherwise running these local delis now.

        • UWS_lifer says:

          Makes sense. Same thing happened with my people now that I think about it. Common immigrant experience I guess.

          Thanks for the answer. I always love your informative posts and they are always spot on.

          All the best.

          • B.B. says:

            Speaking of the immigrant experience, so many young people are moving down to LES causing their great and grand parents to wonder.

            People worked hard to get themselves and their families *off* Ludlow Street; now the kids are flocking back down there. *LOL*

    5. James Hill says:

      I never understood the appeal of Starbucks. Over priced and in NYC the stores are usual over crowded and a MESS. Support the local guy instead of this mess

    6. bloomindaler says:

      Scary how even national chains are being pushed out by CRAZY retail rental prices. So – what’s the alternative locally??…… EARTH CAFE on 97th and Broadway – NE corner.. By far the BEST espresso (don’t know about American coffee) in the neighb – and still reasonable AND locally owned!

    7. Gale says:

      They overextended themselves & began to multiply like all these banks & Duane Reades. Starbucks just a hangout for people whose NYC are too small or too crowded to work in their laptops.

      • B.B. says:

        “Starbucks just a hangout for people whose NYC are too small or too crowded to work in their laptops.”

        That and or they are too cheap to spring for a data plan large enough to accommodate their monthly usage.

        It is amazing to see people sitting on ground in front of a closed SB all hours of night/overnight just to use free WiFi.

    8. NativeNYer says:

      Good bye “too many” Bucks. Your day has come and gone.

    9. Toto says:

      Who cares? But PLEASE IF ANYONE THAT CAN HELP READS THIS, BRING BACK BIG NICKS! SUCH A LOSS!

    10. cant stand their coffee…I drink coffee black and theirs tastes like liquid rust….They should rename stores ”Starbucks liquid deserts” since people pour so much into their coffee that its NOT coffee anymore…lol

    11. Sasha says:

      This is a lovely location. No restroom which pisses people off. I wonder if they’re just doing month to month and waiting for a bank. But the facts are $6.50 for steamed milk, sugar and a tea bag or two- if they have it -is ridiculous which sent me to Dunkin. The previous tenant was an athleisure store which was kind of a mess but fun that it existed. I was told the optical space up the block left vacant for close to 12-15 years is asking $28k a month. $28k? For this hood? If the landlord uses it as a write off then we shall never see businesses open.

      • Sherman says:

        There is no “write off” for a landlord when his space is empty.

        No landlord in the country comes out financially ahead by having empty space.

        Stop spreading ignorant nonsense.

      • B.B. says:

        Many SB locations have gone “no restroom”, but that obviously applies to customers only. There must be such a place for employees somewhere on premises.

        • dannyboy says:

          I had 2 Starbucks sanwhiches at the Delhi Airport before boarding on Wednesday. Better than airline food, and WAY tastier than U.S. Starbucks.

    12. Bk says:

      Last June (2018), Starbucks corporate determined the company was going to cut under-performing locations. Use it or lose it

      https://www.seattletimes.com/business/starbucks/starbucks-lowers-profit-forecast-speeds-closures-of-poorly-performing-stores/

    13. Ben David says:

      #Donate
      Because this is the UWS, someone will start a fundraiser to raise money so that this Starbucks can keep paying the rent 🙂

    14. Neal H Hurwitz says:

      who cares??? why???

    15. Eric says:

      The 67th & Columbus Starbucks actually spilt into 2 locations … a new store was opened on Amsterdam Ave. for neighborhood customers and a Starbucks was opened across the street inside ABC/Disney’s 77W66 cafeteria for employees (who were obviously a big part of the 67th & Columbus location’s business).

      If the cosmetics store does not succeed at 67th & Columbus perhaps we can get McGlade’s back.

    16. UWSmaven says:

      It’s ironic and almost funny to me that the same population that bemoaned the arrival and growth of Starbucks on the UWS as a sign of the apocalypse is now getting petitions together to keep them! Why not support/encourage smaller mini-chains like Joe, Irving Farm, etc…?

      • ec says:

        most of the smaller boutique chains don’t open until 7AM – for someone that commutes early, starbucks is one of the only coffee shops that actually opens early

    17. Irena Appel says:

      It might help if patrons would buy more than just one cup of coffee & occupy sitting areas for hours at times glued to their computers! Someone has to pay the rent, and the so called “patrons” sure don’t contribute to it.

    18. sam says:

      This has nothing to do with Starbucks’ success – but rather an indication of commercial real estate prices and their owners’ business objectives. It is one of many available spaces north of 96th Street (and all over the UWS). I assure you that it will remain vacant for quite some time.

    19. Not everyone has 15 minutes to wait on line for a $4.00 cup of coffee. Starbucks Business Model sorely needs revision. My second observation is that the seats do not turn over because people go to Starbucks to “work” so enjoying a cup of coffee in a Starbucks is difficult.How do you allow a person to buy a cup of coffee in a restaurant and have them stay 4 hours? Any other food establishment would not hit their numbers either.

      • Anon says:

        I order via the app. Super easy and my coffee is ready when I arrive. There is no need to stand in line!

    20. izzy says:

      oh god, the stretch of 99-100th and broadway just keeps getting dankier and dankier. to boot, I don’t know who was high at Dry Bar and made the decision to open up a location there, but I give that another year. It’s always empty and there is zero foot traffic.

    21. Chuck D says:

      If that rat farm of a movie theater across the street ever reopens (been vacant for 14 years now!!!), this Starbucks would be hopping.

      • Jay says:

        There’s no theater. It is only a facade.

        • Kk says:

          It was a movie theater, a disgusting movie theater where my sister saw a eat run down the aisle. Didn’t realize it’s been 15 years now. I feel oooold!

          It’s crazy – the Duane Reade that immediately replaced the movie theater on 86th off Lex closed. That space has been vacant for I think 2 years or so.

    22. ms grandoni says:

      worst coffee in the world and most of what they sell is loaded with sugar and fat. And it’s not cheap either.

      • frenchroast says:

        There are roughly 27,000 Starbucks locations with an average of 500 customers a day. 13 million people a day can’t be wrong.

    23. Joel A says:

      Agree that coffee is hit or miss. Fresh pour over can be great, but seems “coffee” has taken back seat to specialty drinks

    24. Rob says:

      Now you know just a little what it feels likw when others lose places they love that have been in existence for decades. But it shouldn’t hurt that much, Starbucks is only a chain. Try losing great, unique restaurants and places whose cuisine and uniqueness can’t be replaced. Maxwell’s Plum, Columbus, Paolucci’s…on and on. Shows you who really screws you and who will continue to, taking away your beloved places: greedy real estate landlords and developers. Get set for the pop pop pop of the bubble!

    25. David Morris says:

      I live on 97th St. When Starbucks first opened on the northeast corner of 98th and Broadway, years ago, I thought it was the end of the neighborhood. Then, when that Starbucks closed, because the rent was too high, I thought that was the end of the neighborhood.

      • Ll says:

        I remember that Starbucks. I think it replaced Blimoie’s?

        I was actually very confused by the 99th st Starbucks. I was like + it is on the wrong side of the street

    26. Craig S says:

      Kinda funny that when Starbucks leased all these corners the locals bitched and moaned about the chains taking over the neighborhood.
      Now they are complaining that they are vacating.`

    27. No one likes a 15 minute wait for a $4.00 coffee and then have nowhere to sit. The business model is ridiculously inefficient.

    28. So how much rent was Starbucks paying and how much is the landlord asking? The realtor obviously knows. How come that’s not in the story? Couldn’t be hard to find out. Without that you have a mighty big hole in this story.

    29. UWS_lifer says:

      Whether you like Starbucks or not, whether you support big corporate brands or despise them, I think we can all agree that occupied stores are a preferable to more and more empty storefronts. Yes, even banks and nail salons, etc.

      I’d love to see a real Cuban coffee shop with a walk-up counter like they have all over Miami. Those cafecitos and coladas are amazing and cheap will keep you working all day and salsa dancing all night.:) Just my 2 cents.

    30. Alan W. Richter says:

      Unfortunately Starbucks is being gouged by the greedy landlords.

    31. Lisa H says:

      It’s amazing that the landlords/realtors raise the rent/vendors move out and it sits vacant for 2-3 years (or longer) making the neighborhoods look bad. The Ann taylor loft that closed awhile back is still empty. It’s not like tons of retailers are knocking down the doors to move in.

    32. BeckyO_UWS says:

      Am I correctly interpreting this article and so many others, along with their comments here on WSR?

      So when a huge international coffee chain based thousands of miles away closes a little, inconsequential store on the UWS, the readers get upset. When a single shop like RCI, or take your pick of old bars or grocery stores or bodegas, closes, the readers get mad. When a unique museum that defined the neighborhood 150 years ago with an international presence and leadership in scientific research and education builds a small new building for the benefit of everyone, the readers get mad and claim we will all die from toxins and the dogs will die too because of a shadow and transplanted tree to make a new 6 story building in the area.

      There is no logic to this bizarre obsession with people being so possessive of their “neighborhood.” The neighborhood is not yours or mine, even though I grew up here and have lived here for 40 of my 47 years. I don’t own it, and I love that it changes. It’s exciting. The neighborhood will never be static and stasis is death as well as devolution of thought, intellectual growth and progress. One can easily surmise that many of the attitudes expressed here in both articles and comments come from extremely insular and protective, conservative minds, ones who want nothing ever to change in their immediate vicinity.

      Cities are about change and progress. If you want to live somewhere where nothing changes, move to St. Helena Island or never leave your apartment, because every damn day something outside of it has changed, and that is the damn point of NYC as a whole.

      The UWS is unquestionably a dynamic place, both intellectually and physically, and that is exactly its history from the institutions who moved in early, well before you were born, to the radicals of the 60s, 70s and 80s. They were here, not in the village or lower east side. They were here and new such people and places still are here or are arising here. Radicals abound, but they are radicals in thought, not concerned with preserving their daily trifles of where they get overpriced coffee.

      Build and change, UWS! Do new things, rip down the old bad garbage, and make new spaces, create radical new knowledge and thought. What better place to do that than here?

      Remember the past, both good and bad, but welcome the future. That is how I live my life, partly informed by emerging as a human being in this wonderful part of the world.

      By the way, the modern concept of “chain” stores was invented right on this island of Manhattan. Just look at Macy’s, as a later example of that from the 1850s.

      • dannyboy says:

        This “All Change is Good Philosophy” must be unique to you. For the rest of us, we prefer to consider the merits of change and the possible downsides before deciding.

        But hey, as you say “That is how I live my life.” and I gotta respect your life-rule.

        (Also, after you’ve been in the neighborhood for a longer time, you may decide that accepting “All Change As Good” may not be the best worldview possible).

        • BeckyO_UWS says:

          40 of 47 years isn’t long enough for you? How long have you lived in “the neighborhood?”

          • dannyboy says:

            Longer. I am decades older than you.

            I do appreciate you giving a shoutout to “the institutions who moved in early, well before you were born, to the radicals of the 60s, 70s and 80s.”

            Now back to that ‘decades longer than you’.

            You wrote: “When a single shop like RCI, or take your pick of old bars or grocery stores or bodegas, closes, the readers get mad.” Yes, Becky, sometimes I do. After 80 years of business, RCI faced continual rent increases. Read the story in “We Are Staying”.

            So your conclusion: “One can easily surmise that many of the attitudes expressed here in both articles and comments come from extremely insular and protective, conservative minds, ones who want nothing ever to change in their immediate vicinity.” is awfully skewed. Many of us are progressive in our encouragement and embrace of change. It is just the wrongheaded changes that we resist.

            • BeckyO_UWS says:

              Hi Danny, age is a prerequisite for opinion? I didn’t dismiss your opinions because of your age.

              In any case, I don’t think we really disagree. I have lamented the loss of some of my favorites over the years, including that lovely La Fortuna cafe among many others (The All State, Emerald, Abbey, the list is endless). In some cases those were due to rent increases, and I agree that it is ridiculous how many empty stores there are on the UWS for that reason. In some cases, though, it isn’t about rent per se. And often something new and great shows up.

              I guess I am too young to be a true UWS NYer, though. I only grew up here and lived here for 40 years.

            • dannyboy says:

              Age is no prerequisite. Age is no barrier.

              “lovely La Fortuna cafe” – my fav!

              “Abbey” – now you’re getting closer to my haunts and where I met my wife almost 50 years ago. She a barmaid and me a good drinker, a perfect match.

              Any you ARE “a true UWS NYer”, because it is values and attitude that determine your genuine home.

            • BeckyO_UWS says:

              Dannyboy: Hehe, I’m also more of a Northern UWSider. I somehow sense we might have met before . . . I do miss Abbey, and it is kinda sad nothing has opened there, but that wasn’t really a rent jacking issue. Hope to see you around the hood. 😉

          • dannyboy says:

            Becky, I’m a way Northerner too. Started in The Bronx, migrated South to 153 St (between Bway & RSD). Then souther to 112 St (between B’way and Amsterdam), then Souther to WEA (between 103 & 102), then Souther to current home. My next Souther move includes Mexico.

            See you in OUR ‘hood.

    33. C.F. Kane says:

      That outpost on 99h and Broadway was always filthy with hip-hop blasting…

    34. Jo Baldwin says:

      The heck with coffee. Does anyone know where a nice cup of tea can be bought?

      • dannyboy says:

        I returned from India on Wednesday. Perhaps a long way to go for a cup of tea, but worth the trip.

    35. Tom D. says:

      For those bewailing the number of cellphone stores in the UWS, perhaps will cheer you up a smidgin that the Verizon store at Broadway and 109th closed this week.

    36. Jen says:

      More than 70 comments re a coffee shop closing? Sure, my comment counts too. But c’mon people, this is really embarrassing.

      However, I do appreciate WSR covering this “light” topic and more serious ones, like over-development, bike lanes, etc. Nice balance from WSR side, but we, the readers, can do better and focus more on more important issues.

    37. cma says:

      Question: does increase in minimum wage affect profits at Starbucks stores? Are there less staff? A manager at Home Goods/Columbus Ave betw. 97-100th Sts. said it affects how many cashier staff are available; an it was company policy. There was a waiting line with one lone cashier who was also the packer on the first floor and only two on the basement floor, with a long line, last I was there. Lastly, might I suggest alternatives to SB’s — Earth(?) at Bway and 97th, and Birch @ 97th and Columbus.