Storefront Report: Highland Park’s first Starbucks now underway

Lattes headed your way | Photo by Nathan Solis

By Nathan Solis

HIGHLAND PARK — A demolition crew is busy gutting the interior of the former Classic Burger  as a “Coming Soon” banner heralds the arrival of  the first Starbucks to Highland Park.

The owners had won city approval to convert the burger stand on the east end of York Boulevard into a drive-thru Starbucks last year but the building had remained fenced off  and tagged up for several months as neighbors wondered what had happened. Now, after pulling building permits for everything from new signs to plumbing, workers have been busy gutting the former dining room.  It’s not certain when the Starbucks will open but a worker told an Eastsider reader that it could be ready for business in about two months.

The 1,200-square-foot building, which  will receive a drive-thru addition, will be able to accommodate  30 customers inside and on an outdoor patio. Other planned renovations include a retaining wall that will act as a buffer to the nearby homes, a new rock garden and a bike rack. Another addition would be a state of the art drive-thru speaker box presented by Starbucks’ representatives at last year’s zoning board meeting.

The former Classic Burger restaurant has been vacant for close to nine months, first becoming the site for many homeless in the area, then tagged, repainted and tagged again.

Taggers had taken over the building since Classic closed | Nathan Solis

Higland Park, Starbucks

Demo crews at work | Nathan Solis

Nathan Solis is a Highland Park resident who writes about and photographs the L.A. music scene. You can find more of Solis stories, reviews and photos at Smashed Chair.


  1. This is excellent news for the Garvanza neighborhood. It will provide a significant boost to the gentrification process. The neighborhood should welcome it and the likely “Starbucks Effect” it will have on property values.

    I heard a rumor that Cafe de Leche was interested in a second location at a now abandoned autobody at Avenue 64 & Elgin. Hopefully Starbucks starts a trend for this section of York, Ave 64 and Figueroa.

    Another big step would be development of the massive complex of 99cent and Rite Aid at York & Avenue 64. It was good to see the Rite Aid get a remodel recently, and Penny’s Burger is a classic establishment. Other than that though, that shopping complex needs development, it’s like a huge parking lot within nothing going on in it.

    • Yes excellent news! Another cookie cutter corporate franchise for yuppies to surf the internet at. You’re cheering a bland Starbucks franchise so you can make a few bucks on that dump of a house you’re trying to flip before the Big Earthquake…

  2. Then what neighborhood is the Starbucks at the other end of York in?

  3. Great news!

  4. cool! I will definitely ride my bike there, use the bike racks, and get some coffee

  5. Right… cause that Starbucks at Lucy’s in Echo Park really classed up the joint (i.e. did nothing for gentrification).

    • Whether or not the “Starbucks Effect” helps, do you think an eyesore empty building that attracts taggers and homeless, classes up the place?

    • Echo Park resident

      First of all, there’s a big difference between a stand-alone business and a business inside a 24hr laundromat. Secondly, when’s the last time you visited Echo Park? Things have changed drastically, even just in the last 3-4 years.

  6. The Rite Aid do-over was nice, But what happen to planting trees in the parking lot? It’s a desert of parking

    • When the Rite Aid renovation was in progress, they had no plans to even clean up the exterior landscaping (specifically, the craziness on the avenue 63 side). That said, I requested that the Manager (Sergio) and the District Manager (Scott) clean up the exterior as well, and manage graffiti more expeditiously. They have done both and it was only because a concerned citizen and neighborhood stakeholder spoke up. I encourage everyone reading this to reach out to the businesses in our community and express any concerns we have. The squeaky wheel gets the oil….

  7. I can’t hardly wait! Hopefully, Starbucks will plant a few mature trees!

  8. Drive-thrus bring down property values or stagnate immediate surroundings. NC should have demanded no drive-thru. Drive-thrus are all over low income areas. Higher income areas always demand nixing the sight of idling cars wrapped around a single-story building. Not good.

  9. Tina Gulotta-Miller

    Residents from Garvanza along with CD14 and Garvanza Improvement Association worked in support of these improvements like the Starbucks, the repainting of Rite Aid and the clean-up and landscaping of the parameters of the parking lot and store, as well as advocated for the resurfacing at the 99 cent store parking lot. There are great rewards for promoting a cleaner and a better maintained community and we are beginning to see the results of our efforts.

  10. Anyone have insight into what’s happening at Dusty’s a block to the East?

    • I just spoke with the owner and they are still remodeling inside and out, securing permits and approvals, etc. They’re hoping to open “The Offbeat Bar” in a few weeks.

  11. Can someone tell me if theyre submitting job applications

  12. GREAT NEWS !! Job opportunities !!! Wear can we apply ?

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