SOUTHINGTON — A Starbucks location across from the Queen Street highway exit will close while the coffee chain opens another location farther up the road, according to the land owners.
Late last year, the town approved a drive-through for the 613 Queen St. property across from Exit 32, but not before the coffee shop chain had made the decision to move into a former bank at 812 Queen St.
David DeCroce, an owner of the 613 Queen St., said Starbucks has a lease until the end of the year. He’s not sure why the company decided to move.
DeCroce and his partner built the store for Starbucks more than a decade ago.
“They begged us for a drive-through,” he said. “We couldn’t get one approved.”
Starbucks didn’t return a request for comment on the move Tuesday.
West Street location underway
Mark Lovley, a local developer, said there’s another Starbucks location planned on West Street near the Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen. He’s got a lease signed with the company and is hoping to apply for building permits in the next week or so.
“We’re hoping to have it done by October, November, just before the holidays,” Lovley said.
It will be a freestanding building with an outdoor patio and drive-through. Lovley wasn’t surprised that the Queen Street location without a drive-through was closing.
“They’re trying to get rid of their locations that don’t have drive-throughs,” he said.
John Senese, a local developer, announced last month that Starbucks and a Jersey Mike’s Subs would move into the former People’s Bank location at 812 Queen St. across from the Outback Steakhouse restaurant.
Senese owns property on both sides of Queen Street near the West Queen Street intersection and has done extensive development across Queen Street from the former bank building. Senese has built an Aldi grocery store, an AAA center, restaurants and an urgent care center on land that used to be a factory, a small restaurant and some houses.
He’s working to renovate the former bank for both restaurants and reuse the drive-through for Starbucks, an amenity that DeCroce’s property doesn’t have.
In October, DeCroce’s representatives argued that trends within the food industry made a drive-through a necessity. The pandemic accelerated the trend toward people preferring drive-through service he told town planners.
Some Planning and Zoning Commission members were concerned about the unconventional layout of the property and the possibility of cars tying up traffic on the access road leading to Starbucks and possibly even Queen Street. Only one commission member voted against the plan in October when DeCroce got approval.
An access road directly in front of the highway exit brings drivers to Starbucks as well as other businesses. Sev Bovino, an engineer representing the property owners, proposed a dine-in or pickup entrance off that access road and a dedicated drive-through entrance as well, which he said would leave plenty of space on the property for cars to wait in the drive-through line without backing up onto the access road or Queen Street.
DeCroce expressed confidence that his property being directly across from Exit 32 off Interstate 84 would attract another business, particularly now that a drive-through has been approved. He said tens of thousands of cars a day pass by the location, a major draw for business tenants. DeCroce is sifting through those interested to get the best fit for the property.
“It’s a very desireable location,” he said. “People have been calling us since people have heard (that Starbucks is leaving).”
Reporter Jesse Buchanan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Michael Riccio as an owner of 613 Queen St.