News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Has the Beginning of the End of the Starbucks Empire Begun in North Reston?

70044.jpgShocking news from "Star Bucks," the fancy upscale coffee store that inexplicably sold all those Norah Jones CDs that everyone kept talking about back in the 1990s, a decade which was... a decade ago. Yeah.

Anyhoo, turns out the Starbucks in the North Point Giant has folded, as grocery shoppers somehow managed to keep their impulse control in check for the 35 seconds it took to walk over to the standlone North Point Starbucks -- an arduous 75-foot journey that Starbucks corporate planners apparently assumed people wouldn't undertake without at least a "skinny" mocha latte chai under their belts to tide them over until they went for the gusto and got the tall, or grande, or whatever their Big Gulp-sized coffee cup is called. Go figure!

If a Starbucks located in the shadow of another Starbucks can't survive economically in these challenging times, are any of us safe?

32 comments:

  1. I guess the iPad didn't sell as well as people hoped. Hopefully Volkswagen buyers will maintain the company until a new iPod is released.

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  2. Will the Starbucks at South Lakes' Safeway follow suit with another Starbucks literally across the parking lot?

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  3. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO): Soon-to-Be "Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin Woods"April 8, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    In my native Wilkes-Barre, PA plans were scrapped for a stand-alone Starbuck's in the city's downtown core when a new Barnes & Noble opened up just across the street with a Starbuck's inside. That location is very busy, but it was obviously the correct decision, as splitting that business in half would have caused both locations to barely break even. Starbuck's had saturated the marketplace, and when the recession hit luxury items such as tall mocha choca latte ya-yayas had to go for some people. As a loyal patron of the Northpoint Giant I hope they use the recently-vacated space to help spread the store's merchandising areas out a bit. With the way people careen around aisles on their cell phones in this congested store I've been rammed from behind here more than anywhere else (let the gay jokes roll!) I don't like how "fancy pants" Harris Teeter feels (I'm an easy-to-please person), but if one more oblivious woman at Giant lets their three-year-old push their cart into my shin at full-force today because they are too busy texting to pay attention to what their children are doing, I'm going to cause a scene where my aggressive Northern accent will come out in full force and may just hoof it down to the South Lakes Safeway! UGH!

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  4. I always considered those Starbucks branches inside of supermarkets as not real Starbucks. Maybe they've changed, I don't know, but in any case, seems like a pretty trivial thing to write about, slow news day I guess! :)

    I do think we need more indy cofee shops in the area. Do we have ANY?

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  5. dvdmon, there's the one at lake anne (assuming it hasn't gone under when I wasn't paying attention).

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  6. When the Starbucks kiosk first appeared at the North Point Giant, I asked the real Starbucks people about it. They said it was not owned by Starbucks. Rather, another company licenses the product/name/etc. and runs it. That's why, even though they accepted Starbucks cards to pay for drinks, some of the perks like free soy milk and syrup flavors didn't apply there. I believe the same is true for the Safeway and Target Starbucks kiosks.

    @dvdmom: There's Greenberry's in the Home Depot center. While it's a franchise, it's small with only 13 locations in 3 states and DC.

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  7. Community Canteen is a coffee shop whose only location is at the Reston Town Center. They have the most amazing cinnamon chip scones. communitycanteen[dot]com

    See, not everything at RTC is a chain.

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  8. The Canteen is part of the Lettuce Entertain You group, which has Big Bowl, Mon Ami Gabi, and a billion other restaurants. It is part of a corporate empire!

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  9. @Anon 9:28, duh! I just went there on Monday and we basically go there every time we go to Lake Anne, don't know why it escaped me.

    @divdem, it's moN, not moM, but anyway, yes, I had thought of that one, and new it was a chain, but didn't know how relatively small it was, so that's good to know.

    I've generally not been getting coffee out lately because I have my own espresso machine and we have free, albeit mediocre, coffee at work, but I like the idea of coffee places as local gathering spots, venues for local artists, etc. Lake Anne Coffee House does a little of this, but it's pretty small and jammed on Saturdays during warm weather, then pretty empty almost any other time during the week... Would be nice if something like this existed at South Lakes to compete with the Starbucks there, but I'm not betting on one.

    Speaking of South Lakes, does anyone have experience with the Dinner Zen place? Is it closed or what? Every time I go there, no matter what time of day or day of the week, it is always closed with the lights out. Very puzzling!

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  10. dang it I stand corrected. Thanks for the info Pamela!

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  11. dvdmon- I think Cafesano (at south lakes) fits that bill pretty well, since it's so casual. I know lots of people who meet there for coffee and desert, and my friend goes to a knitting club that meets there once a month. Has a great view of the lake, too. Also, great cannolis.

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  12. Thanks Anon 1100! I hadn't thought of that place mainly because I don't think of it as a coffee house, bur rather a restaurant, but I do like it. It does get pretty loud and busy at times, but I guess coffee houses can be like this too. I wonder if there's wifi there? Not that that is a requirement, just a nice thing to have...

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  13. Love Cafe Sano and Dinner Zen. They are open, but are closed on Sundays and Mondays and open until 2ish on Saturday. They are open accordining to when they have sessions scheduled. I woudl check their site for retail hours. I highly recommend it though.

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  14. Starbucks won't be missed by me. I'm so glad that I never developed the coffee habit.

    Now if only I could find a place to buy a good dime bag of weed for - ahem - purely medicinal purposes, of course.

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  15. Some of you idiots have obviously come to some of your senses and finally realized that over-roasted $5 cups of coffee are a rip off.

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  16. starbucks coffee is a chain and a little more $ but at least they give their employees (even part timers) health insurance.

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  17. I worked at a licensed Starbucks located inside a grocery store a loooong time ago. We had to go through all the same training as any other Starbucks employees, but enjoyed none of the benefits, as we were considered employees of the grocery store, not Starbucks. We still wore those aprons proudly, though. Sad to see one go. We need to replace it with a drive-thru one STAT!!

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  18. I don't know...the problem I have with those in-store Starbucks is that they always seem to hire the people who weren't quite cutting it working in the grocery store itself.

    Some odd looking guy named Roger who takes the bus to work and would always get yelled at for not stacking cans correctly has suddenly put on the hip green Starbucks apron and is haphazardly trying to make a latte.

    It just doesn't work for me. I don't mind paying the $5.00 if there is some real Starbucks atmosphere to go with it.

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  19. Cut the kid some slack there, Anon. At least he's working at something fairly harmless. Instead of screwing up the coffee, he could be bobbing for french fries.

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  20. Broke in Charter Oak (BiCO): Soon-to-Be "Amongst the 'Hoods in Colvin Woods"April 9, 2010 at 12:13 PM

    "Real Starbuck's atmosphere." That's almost as funny as when people tell me I ought to respect and bow down before Reston's "historic community character." So 1970s-era communist-looking dwellings are "historic" now? Hmmm...interesting. I thought "historic" would have been a place like Old Town Alexandria, Georgetown, Winchester, the non-crappy parts of Leesburg, etc.

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  21. BiCO, again with the historical? You sound hysterical!

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  22. BiCO can't seem to agree that places aren't just "historic" because of age. Yes, even ugly places can be historic, BiCO, you don't have to have quaint charm or age to have that moniker. Hard to believe, but true.

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  23. He's just being crotchety due to the dearth of hugs and dates.

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  24. Speaking of South Lakes, does anyone have experience with the Dinner Zen place? Is it closed or what? Every time I go there, no matter what time of day or day of the week, it is always closed with the lights out. Very puzzling!

    April 8, 2010 10:10 AM
    _____

    Did anyone ever figure out what the Zen place was or how they did business? It was something about meals.

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  25. Dinner Zen was one of those places where you go, and under the supervision of a chef, put together meals that they then help you package for freezing and then you take it home. The appeal was to people (mostly women) who could go there, and in one session, go home with frozen meals for a 2 week period.

    I think it was an attempt to market to the guilt people (esp women) have about not 'home cooking' by partially home cooking and then freezing. And it appealed to a lot of younger women who didn't learn 'how' to cook...Whatever.

    My suspicion is that the recession caused people to think twice about how they were spending their time and money -- and most people couldn't justify Zen...if it has indeed closed. The concept is pretty heavy on the "frivolity goods" scale unless one is facing surgery that will put him or her out of commission for 2 weeks or so (which one of my friends who lives in Ashburn did at Let's Dish for that very reason).

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  26. "Historic" Reston Lake Anne is just hudgins' failed attempt to save what is a demonstrated failure that otherwise would be bulldozed and forgotten.

    It's ugly
    It's dead
    It's an abomination
    It's got a failed air conditioning system
    it's a mess and it should go.

    Even the (UGLY!) historic markers signs on the so-called "parkway" named after Baron Cameron are falling down, peeling, and infested with vines and overgrown vegetation.

    200+ years of wear and tear and Alexandria and Geotown are in much better shape than the abomination called Lake Anne.
    Th

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  27. Those same 200+ years don't seem to improved your outlook either.

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  28. Anon 2:18, as others have noted, Dinner Zen hasn't closed.

    I also disagree completely with your take on it. I'm a guy and although I've never been to Dinner Zen, I did do Dinner Done (a competitor) once. I don't think this has anything to do with guilting women. What it does have to do with is making large amounts of semi-prepared foods in a short period at a relatively inexpensive price. You do it yourself so you can custom-design a dish or follow the ingredients list exactly. I don't know about Dinner Zen, but Dinner Done has no "chef supervision." You are given a recipe and preperation instructions, a bunch of ingredients and measuring stuff (although as noted you don't have to do everything exactly according to recipe). All the ingredients and equipment is layed out for you and you don't have to do any cleaning, putting away, etc.

    In short, it's kind of like what most people do but without all the drugery of finding the ingredients, taking them out, etc. Purists will complain that it's not really cooking, but a heck of a lot of people just follow recipes so I don't see it as much different.

    I think it targets families who have very busy parents who don't have the time or organization skills to make all these meals from scratch or even meal-plan effectively, but without the expense (and lack of control of ingredients) that comes with ordering out/going out a lot.

    There doesn't seem to be anything frivolous about this, but I will agree with you that the economy may indeed have been unkind to this business model for the sole reason that with more parents laid off, they now have the time to do all this stuff themselves at home and sometimes might need to be even more thrifty than these places will allow.

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  29. What they need to do is open a Starbucks Jr. in every high school in the county. We could use the money we make to provide all-day kindergarten. If it's a big hit, we could also have all-night kindergarten for those partents who are too busy to rake the leaves, pick up after themselves, fix dinner, or make sure junior does his or her homework.

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  30. Starbucks Jr in High Schools. Kriminy, why don't we just start selling crack and smack as well? Our school kids need less retail and vending and advertising in our schools, not more.

    If you want more funding for all-day kindergarten, propose a tax increase instead.

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  31. To dvdmom
    For local independent coffee house that is truly wonderful,there is Greenberry's in the Home Depot shopping center .

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