By C.J. Salgado
Just the other day, my sister mentioned that she “can’t believe how much is changing in East L.A. … [for] the better.” I have to say, I agree. I mean, East L.A. now has two Starbucks!
Okay, technically, the new Starbucks at the corner of Whittier Boulevard and Goodrich boulevards is in the City of Commerce in a building formerly occupied by Pollo Campero. But unincorporated East Los Angeles is right across the street. If you ask many East L.A die hards, they’d argue this location and the surrounding shopping center was once part of the community, and in many ways remains a part of the regular life in East L.A, if only because so many of the shopping center customers are East L.A. residents. (However, if you’re a purist, the only Starbucks technically within East L.A. is at Third Street and Gage Avenue.)
Regardless, I could not resist the big “now open” sign and pulled over to check things out, of course, while also giving me the chance to enjoy a favorite, an Iced Vanilla Latte. The friendly manager said they just opened on Friday. By the customer traffic so far, “triple” what they expected, things are looking good. In fact, said the manager, they’re still looking for staffing.
Considering that East L.A. is largely Latino, oddly, the site’s former tenant, Pollo Campero, did not stay long despite serving “flavorful Latin flavors.” I wonder if Starbucks, the largest coffeehouse company in the world, will do better? If my observations mean anything, they just might stick around. During my visit, there was a steady stream of customers around the lunch hour. With a capacity of 68, wireless hot spot, cool decor, and a proximity to the Regency Theaters and other shops, a good number of customers, mostly younger, had their laptops flipped open, sipping on flavorful drinks. A barista, explained that the most popular drink was the caramel Frappuccino.
Okay, true, my mouth was lazily enjoying the latte and enjoying the ambiance, but my MBA mind was on overdrive counting customer traffic rate, assessing target customer profile, location, competitors, etc. Conclusion, I’d say, we’ve got a winner here. At least this customer, me, plans to “boo” back for that Halloween season treat, a Pumpkin Spice Latte.
C.J. Salgado is an East Los Angeles resident.