Goodbye Burgers, Hello Starbucks: Coffee chain makes progress on second York Boulevard location

Property owners wants to convert former Classic Burger  into a Starbucks/Nathan Solis

Starbucks Drive-Thru/C.J. Salgado

By Nathan Solis

A drive-thru Starbucks took another step to setting up shop on York Boulevard after a successful city Planning Department hearing on the proposed layout of the coffee shop. The former fast food Classic Burger on York Boulevard near Figueroa Street will be converted into a Starbucks Coffee with a drive-thru addition to the approximately 1,200-square-foot building. The dining room and patio of the proposed Starbucks would seat approximately 30 people, with new landscaping and a number of other additions to the parking lot.

After a hearing last week, a zoning administrator approved the case, however, the detailed decision letter has not been sent out yet, said Christina Toy Lee, Associate Zoning Administrator, in an email this week.

Landlord Dan Mellinkoff approached the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council early this year with the proposal to convert Classic Burger, which shut down in July, into a Starbucks. The council had a number of concerns, but Mellinkoff had already approached Starbucks and had established a comprehensive plan for the conversion. Starbucks already operates a drive-thru outlet only about two miles away on the western end of York Boulevard in Eagle Rock,  meaning  York Boulevard would be bookended by Frappuccinos if the chain agreed to opened a store at the Classic Burger location.

“At that point [Mellinkoff] and Starbucks came to us pretty early on with their plans and they were prepared,” said says Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council board member Harvey Slater. “We really didn’t have much time to raise any concerns, as they were coming to the council with a lot of the work done,”

The proposed project will add onto the building a drive-thru window, which is a cause for concern for some people in the neighborhood.

Gloria Trejo, board member of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, would prefer a sit down cafe rather that one she feels would only cater to South Pasadena commuters.

Other members of the council see the area in need of the shot in the arm that Starbucks would provide.

“This will serve as an anchor location to an already blighted area that understands the drive-thru mentality,” said Tina Gulotta-Miller of the Garvanza Improvement Association.

The number of renovations that are being proposed to the parking area of the former Classic Burger are a retaining wall that will act as a buffer to the nearby homes, along with a new rock garden and a bike rack.

At the zoning board meeting, Mellinkoff and Starbucks representatives offered a traffic report from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation that stated there would only be a “low-net increase” in traffic. The office of City Council member Jose Huizar offered its support at the hearing as well.

Mellinkoff said after the zoning board meeting, “We still have a lot of work ahead of us.”

One concern for local resident Amy Krell who lives adjacent to the Burger King on York Boulevard is that the hours of activity at the proposed Starbucks location will disturb nearby residences.

“I’ve had a horrible 10 years with Burger King. I can hear their speaker box in my restroom. And it’s not only the dining hours, but also the drive-thru customers who come through at midnight, and the late night deliveries,” said Krell.

In response, a Starbucks representative said that number of provisions have been requested by the neighborhood council to accommodate nearby residents. One is a retaining wall that would act as a buffer to the nearby apartments and a sophisticated speaker box that will adjust the decibel output according to the level of noise that is in the surrounding area. Whether or not that will be enough for nearby residents remains to be seen.

“I’m just concerned for the people in the area who are going to have to live by the Starbucks, because we all know it’s going to be full of activity from opening to closing,” said Krell.

When pressed if she’s against a Starbucks in the area Krell clarified that she’s hesitant of the drive-thru.

“But I would love a Starbucks in the area. They already have half of all my money.”


  1. The other location on York is in Eagle Rock, not Glassell Park…

  2. I for one welcome our new corporate coffee overlords. At least they’ll make sure their business stays adequately clean and nicely landscaped.

  3. This is great news! It’s a validation of all the positive changes happening in Highland Park over the past few years. Very happy to see this going forward.

  4. I would prefer a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Just sayin is all…..

  5. Make no mistake, Starbucks is really in the milk business……. their espresso is complete sh*t.

  6. Wooohooooo! This is great news. Starbucks offers their employees great health benefits and is generally a good neighbor providing jobs, they keep their premises clean, and we could use a nice place at the corner to sit and read the paper while sipping a coffee. Welcome!

  7. While I’m not opposed to a Starbucks opening at this location I do have concern about a drive thru placed here. The Starbucks on York and Eagle Rock has a serious habitual problem at their drive thru exit. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve had to slam on my brakes or swerve out of the way of some ass exiting the drive thru drive way with no regard to the right of way traffic on York. I don’t know if they dart out of there with anger over sitting in line for too long or if its the 20 seconds of receiving their beverage they are over caffeinated to the teeth but very often they pull out like it’s a high speed police pursuit on their tales. I’ve seen pedestrians jump out of the way and in general it’s a pointless hazard. Reconsider allowing a drive thru.

    • Definitely agree that this is a problem at the Eagle Rock location. Hopefully the architect here will address that problem.

  8. what a relief, for just a second there I thought troy burger was closing…

    now that would be a disaster

  9. This used to be Gus’ back in the day, he’d hook up a lot of us from Franklin who played sports…ahh good times.

  10. GarvanzaAdjacent

    The lady that lives next to Burger King and can’t stand their speakers—was Burger King there when you moved in? Did you think that when you live so close to a drive thru that somehow the sound would not reach your Delicate Ears?
    This is great for HP and Garvanza. The Hipster to Homeless ratio will be much more balanced once a Starbucks slides into Garvanza. Antonio Corsi would be proud.

    • To be fair, Burger King’s motto is “Have it your way,” so maybe the woman who moved in next to Burger King thought they would honor her wishes to turn down the volume on their drive-through speaker system.

  11. This may come as an “unpopular opinion” among some Highland Park natives but I preferred Classic over Penny’s.

  12. Starbucks is not necessarily going to prevent crime. In fact, it would be better in terms of crime prevention to have a locally owned shop with an owner present who really cares about what is going on in their store.

    Also, Starbucks is involved in some BAD politics:


    Welcoming Starbucks into the neighborhood is not going to make things better. What we need is more local business, not corporations.

  13. seriously listen to eric^^^, people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. Are there any updates on this project?

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *