Is the new Highland Park Starbucks really that bad?

The design of Highland Park’s first Starbucks has proven a letdown for many residents. The Eastsider asked architect Catherine Garrison of Highland Park to review the building and figure out where this drive-thru Starbucks took a wrong turn.

By Catherine Garrison

Walk-up customers order at a small window in a covered but unenclosed seating area

HIGHLAND PARK — Whether or not you are a fan of the Starbucks brand, they have a well-developed approach to store design. Their mission statement says, “we design our stores to reflect the unique character of the neighborhoods they serve.” No wonder Highland Park residents are not happy with the new Starbucks, it shows a lack of respect for the neighborhood.

The building has no legible design intent; awkward space planning and poor craftsmanship. I am surprised that Starbucks let this retail outlet be built under their brand.

Between being a homeowner, practicing architect, and a fan of the unique businesses in Highland Park, I had an ambivalent opinion on whether Starbucks coming to the neighborhood was a good thing. I was not against it. In the very least, I expected we would get a predictable, but acceptable new store. For example a strip-mall prototype, like the new Habit Burger in the Figueroa Plaza, which looks more like a typical Starbucks than this building. Or a Highland Park themed Starbucks, like the Craftsman Jack-in-Box on Ave 43 and Figueroa. When I saw the new Starbucks on York, I thought the building was not only disappointing, but insulting to Highland Park.

The real missed opportunity is that the design of the new Starbucks does not match the design sophistication of the neighborhood. The building was formally Classic Burger and Starbucks had an opportunity re-invent a piece of roadside architecture. Starbucks has successfully occupied other building types across the city. They should have taken on the challenge of repurposing a classic Los Angeles typology, the burger stand. Or if the constraints were too challenging, start from scratch and build something worthy of the neighborhood.

Instead the new Starbucks is a tragic pastiche of design approaches; Classic Burger building massing, with the addition of strip-mall finishes, and a dash of Highland Park themed details. The Classic Burger mansard roof has been re-clad in an asphalt shingle to resemble a shake roof. There is an assembly of salvaged wood windows and a river rock curb at the edge of the outdoor seating area, which I interpret to be a nod to the historic architecture of Highland Park. The elements were poorly considered and executed. For example, the concrete block curb is veneered with river rock on the sides, not on top, so you can see that the rocks have been sliced and applied. These details are barely recognizable as the architectural elements they are meant to reference.

I am not against what architects refer to as the “decorated shed.” The idea of the decorated shed is that the applied ornament is symbolic and works as a sign, or is a sign, that communicates the building’s use and values. And the independent systems of space and structure serve the building’s use. This building is not a successful decorated shed on either account, in its use of ornament or space. The covered outdoor area is an undefined space with a bathroom door at its center. Starbucks usually bothers to tuck the bathroom door in a corner or off a hall. The spot where walk-up customers order is a pinched, 4-foot wide window. The lack of storefront windows means that the outdoor space is primarily experienced as a concrete and stucco environment. The indoor dining room mentioned in planning does not exist and there is very little parking. The Highland Park Starbucks clearly preferences drive-thru users over those looking for community space.

The Highland Park location will probably still make money, in spite of the design. The neighborhood, however, demands better design and this building leaves a hole in the market for businesses that better reflect the community. Because of this I suspect the Starbucks will be remodeled in 3-5 years. If it doesn’t, it risks watering down its brand. Such as shame since good design and longevity are the foundations of sustainable design.

The spartan “interior” of the Highland Park Starbucks.

May I Take Your Order: Cars in drive-thru idle only a few feet from nearby apartments

The Highland Park Starbucks clearly preferences drive-thru users over those looking for community space.

Workers look out from kitchen/prep area through small windows.

Classic Burger before it was transformed into a Starbucks | Nathan Solis

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  1. We get watered down crap projects in California because of the very hand-wringing in this article. I’m sorry, but I’ve lived in Highland Park for many years, and ‘design sophistication’ does not exist in this neighborhood. There may be a few decent buildings but there is no cohesive zone of significant architecture, no matter how much neighborhood boosters may wish it so. Claiming that reusing the old Classic Burger as a missed opportunity is an SNL-level joke.

    Starbucks didn’t do anything interesting in the space because (a) it’s a drive through coffee shop and (b) they would have had to battle with the many armchair architects in the area.

    • There is no cohesive zone of significant architecture which is why there is a massive Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in the area.

      There are plenty of buildings in the area with unglamorous uses that still respect the humans entering and exiting their buildings. Heck, there are auto repair shops with more respect for their customers than this epic dirty diaper of a building.

    • Are you serious? Highland Park is one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods and it’s packed with craftsman homes and architecture. I’ve lived in this neighborhhod for 9 years and I’m proud of the diversity it offers.

  2. Amen to this article! I actually do frequent Starbucks. I like their coffee, their ethical treatment of employees, and generally don’t mind their architecture. I was very excited to see them coming to York near where I live, but when I saw the complete lack of design, research, respect, etc. for the community, I decided to boycott Starbucks. We were all hoping for a warm and comforting place to sit, commune with other community members, and experience a new place to enjoy a great cup of coffee but instead we got a slapped together drive-thru with no interior place at all to relax and enjoy a cuppa joe. Honestly, the worst Starbucks I have ever seen hands down. Totally disappointed in every way with the new Starbucks! There are MANY of us living and working in Highland park that appreciate good design. Good design MATTERS!

  3. Footnote: “decorated shed” was a tem coined by Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour in their book, Learning from las Vegas.

  4. Please. It’s in the land of the 99¢ store. A pile of lumber would make that hood look nicer. The apartments that are being impacted by the drive thru are the homes of tenants who leave piles of unwanted furniture blocking the sidewalk for weeks. I know because I live on ave 63 and walk over it every morning. The city pays little to no attention to that area — Starbucks was brave to erect anything at all there. I was wondering how they would deal with the homeless population that now squats in jack in the box and destroys the restrooms there, so I was pleasantly surprised that they decided to just leave the problem outside and design a location with no indoor seating. Makes perfect sense. Perfect, too, is the droll look of the place. It’s an appropriate nod to the city’s neglect of the area, a neighborhood that leaves its residents peering hopefully through the crap as the Starbucks employees peer out of their tiny windows.

    • Wake up and take a look around. It’s not 2008 anymore. HP may still be rough around the edges, but it’s one of the most vibrant and exciting communities in LA right now. Starbucks had an opportunity to be part of that. Instead they blew it big time.

      • Oh Puh-leze.

        Why exactly IS Highland Park one of the most “vibrant & exciting” communities according to you? Aww…. Is it because you read it in GQ or Esquire magazine? You know, nationally published magazines with their fingers on the pulse of the local community? Is it becaue the hipster sheep who either never could or can no longer afford to live in Silver Lake & Echo Park and are forced to relocate to the neighborhood are telling you? Is it because you just discovered how “Cooooooooooool” Footsie’s is? Or that new Pizza joint Follerio’s?

        Tell you what… How about at 1 am tonight, you take a walk down Fig from York Boulevard to the Ihop by the freeway and if you do make it home in one piece let me know how the urban blight of my old neighborhood translates into “vibrant and exciting”. A few cool bars and yummy pizza don’t make the neighborhood new.

        There now. Off you go Hipster Sheep. Baaaaaaaaaaaaah bah.

        • Oh God, not this ridiculous “the ‘hood is dangerous so we deserve to be shit on” attitude.

          I walk and ride my bike at all hours of the day and night (1 a.m., 2 a.m., 3 a.m., noon, weekdays, weekends, you name it) and nothing had ever happened to me or even been suggested with the exception of being passed by car drivers moving at reckless speeds.

          Poor Starbucks, can’t deal with HLP’s homeless population. Hah!

          • that’s interesting , I remember u saying that u were robbed or assaulted while riding the LA river trail some time last year to Patch and LAPD???? Did we miss some thing.. someone else with the same name.

            THat Starbuck should not have been built from the beginning. We warn the HHPNC not to settle for a water down version. They seem all for it. not to long ago.

          • Yeah, and the LA River Trail is the same place as Fig.

          • Good to know you’re such a fan. I was mugged for 7 dollars in Lincoln Heights in 2008 at Lincoln Park and North Broadway at 2 a.m.

        • You sure make a lot of assumptions considering you know nothing about me. You think my only experience with HP is an article I read in Esquire? I live here, bro. I’ve lived here for a long time. I’ve also lived in Studio City and Santa Monica and I’d take Northeast LA over either of those places. HP is artsy, funky, eclectic, vibrant and fun. The restaurants are great. Best tacos at La Estrella, pan dolce at Elsa’s, craft beers at Hermosillo, italian at Maximiliano’s, etc. etc. etc. I love seeing the vintage cars come out on second saturday and buying from local artists. Fig is a little sketchier than York is, but that is changing too. And by the way, you can disagree with me without being a dickhead about it.

          • Best tacos at La Estrella? You just made it painfully clear you know nothing about this area.

          • Actually, if you were using your reading comprehension skills you’d notice I was asking questions as to why you’d make such a statement of fact as HP being ” one of the most vibrant and exciting communities in LA right now”. Where’s your data? What are your sources?

            Are you using that glorious fountain of neighborhood information YELP, you sly fox?!

            Aaah…. I read Wang “Don’t call me late for dinner’s” C.’s review of the Pan Dolce too! I’m on to you, you Seaky Pete!

            (By the way, along with your “Best Tacos” review of La Estrella rendering any argument you may have of knowing the neighborhood moot, knowing it’s PAN DULCE wouldn’t exactly hurt your credibilty. You know, since you’ve been here like… forever.)

            So take that, BRO.


          • If you think la estrella tacos are good you need to try the tacos from the tacos sabrosos truck, they’re the ones outside food 4 less usually in front of the churro truck. Those are really good! And I agree, fig is a bit sketchy but the local homeless man in my area is kind of like a security guard now haha…

        • Carsmakepeoplestupid

          Reminder: Worship DJ Bento Box!

          • No, no. I’m not looking for worship.

            I’m just a fella looking for a kind hand on my shoulder, an understanding nod and a “thank you for all the good you do”.

            Simple, really.

            Oh, and someone to get me a copy of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Jazz Impressions of Japan” on vinyl. I’d be quite the happy boy.

          • DJ Bento Box: just another grouch with middling tastes who thinks he’s a sassy cool guy. Dime a dozen.

        • The only thing that stays constant here is DJ Bento Box’s one dimensional & condescending rhetoric year after year… I get it. You’re “cultured” like your Japanese inspired and wildly outdated DJ name. The only worth you have on here is entertainment value, which BTW, aren’t you overdue picking a fight with another eastsider commentor who opposes your views??

        • Respectfully, you’re not thinking progressively here. There were plenty of ways to provide a halfway decent design on the same budget and work towards bettering the neighborhood. Instead, Starbucks is insulting the locals by taking giant steps backwards, essentially handing off their caramel frappuccinos with a long stick from the safety of their air conditioned kitchen. All they’re missing now is bullet proof glass.

        • Starbucks works with local designers and builders who must have contributed to this design as it does not look like their other stores. It seems realistic to expect that the company will add more features to this site to help make it more welcoming and comfortable but don’t expect a remodeling effort. The “3-5 years” mentioned earlier is about right to see if the store makes money to support a remodeling, or to move out altogether. It does seem like the design minimizes objects that could be stolen or vandalized. As bad as it seems, it’s still not tacky like Classic Burger! Make mine a Grande Americano. 😉

        • Well after hearing and reading what people think about the new upgrade Lol I have to say i’m glad I moved out 15 years ago I lived there since 64. People say Highland Park has allot of Historic land mark and Culture oh yeah 40 years ago maybe till it was over run by poverty and violence long long ago. Don’t get me wrong I Love my neighborhood roots. wish our City did too! funny thing in the last few years they have had a few good white folks move in and open up shop there and why not rents way cheaper than Beverly Hills right!..Lol Oh and I luv that ridiculous one lane traffic jam road they put on York Blvd. thanks to our wonderful Ex Mayor Villaraigosa smart!. I really hate coming to HLP these days so depressing. I always felt it was time to Bulldoze it down years ago and start fresh again! .
          I say Lets start by putting real jobs MONEY and education for people living there, then there will be change for the better. No more slaps in the faces from a 1.5 Billion Dollar Company like Starbucks and other Company’s right MR. Howard Schultz. The neighborhood will support its community leaders if change is headed in the right direction. So keep your high price coffee Ghetto designs WW2 Bunkers away! looks like a bad King Taco place terrible .:(
          No more Halla living in Squalor Mentality people! sorry if I got off the subject but being what it is today all started somewhere..

  5. I LOVE IT! Kudos to the Starbucks marketing team! No doubt they did their panoptic design research by combining Highland Park’s crime statistics and its urban demographics. Perfect example of classic post-war penitentiary bunker anti-tank architecture! What I really like are the accented shotgun windows and the dual French roll down riot cages! Disciplinary architecture at its best!

  6. I am not a Starbucks expert by any means , but the York / Fig Starbucks is at best, the most down beat I ve ever seen. I have used Starbucks from time to time while out and about and I can’t ever remember seeing one in this format. They always seem to have a consistent design and control of their stores with a strong design theme for exteriors and interiors. . In contrast check out the other HP Starbucks at the other end of York at 4453 York , https://www.google.com/maps/@34.123921,-118.219677,3a,75y,180.09h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sI9STg-6tLMDvlrWIHOEgkw!2e0!6m1!1e1, this is a more typical design of the coffee shop. HP has been having surge of many new and upbeat stores installed on York and Fig, so you would think Starbucks would pick up on that vibe and respond accordingly. Its a very sad statement they have made to our community. HP gets a SB finally but it’s so unwelcoming.

  7. Yes, it really is that bad. But, I somewhat disagree with the architect doing the review. It *does* perfectly fit in with the classic Highland Park aesthetic of crappy looking stucco’d over homes.

    • I guess SB realized if they took away parking and the drive thru they’d probably get all type of beef about it. So you get what you deserve autocentric HP.

  8. Good article critical of the ugly Starbucks, but “preferences” is not and never has been a verb.

  9. someone please call a copy editor, stat.

  10. This Starbucks really is hideous and insulting. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t believe how they cheaped out and did the bare minimum with the low budget design. I noticed that Starbucks in other areas, even ones without a necessarily high income population, have much, much better design and aesthetics, or at least an indoor seating area. Like we really need a drive through with our constant sunny weather and already polluted air? And the focal point being the bathroom door is beyond unappetizing.. How did HP get the shaft? I hope someone over at Starbucks realizes how much the residents hate this one. They can’t just take a big dump in our neighborhood and expect to have loyal patrons.

  11. The web address for the Starbucks feedback on their stores is posted below:


    • Thanks for the contact link. I just submitted my opinion to them and they say I’ll hear back from them in a day. If everyone here would give their opinion to them directly, it may have an impact. I was looking forward to having a Starbucks close to home but this place is so depressing looking that I haven’t even visited.

  12. Painfully obvious the real reason there is no warm and homey design here is Starbucks did not want to attract neighborhood scum to hang out here. Lets not forget the only reason Highland Park is considered “up and coming” is its the only place underachievers, who can’t get it together to buy in a nice area , have to resort to displacing the parents of incarcerated gangbangers.
    “funky, eclectic, vibrant” equals crime ridden dirtbag land.

  13. This “store” is an eyesore. the walk up window is about as inviting as the crack den featured in New Jack City. Are they afraid that the “store” could possibly get robbed? I’ve got news for you Starbucks…. Crooks can wait till you leave…. you’ve got to go home sometime.

  14. What a DISASTER!!! Why can’t we in Highland Park demand better? Our community is DESERVING!!!
    Did the HHPNC, HPOZ, and Garvanza Association fall asleep at the helm when this project was proposed? What a disappointment!!! It’s time for HIghland Park to raise its expectations and DEMAND BETTER!!!

    • Please go tell that to members of your community who allow trash, dumped items, and graffiti to linger in their neighborhood. Maybe they’ll up their game.

      • The facts you state are true but the point is wrong. No city or community does anything to pick up trash left around on the streets. The city picks those things up. And yes rich people in nice and rich neighborhoods leave trash everywhere it’s just that these cities get cleaned up constantly. It’s not fair to blame the community for somehow inviting trash. It’s just the lack of resources in the community, not their standards.

  15. I’m nonplussed. Just like poster “Katrina”, I’m willing to give Starbucks some credit for maintaining some corporate decency (above average wage scales, retirement bennies, reasonable health care coverage) and, despite being an devout coffee snob, I can enjoy their product. But… This is clearly a “hedge bet” on Starbucks behalf- A locked-down test bed for what some demographer said was a marginal location.

    Yup, I would have to agree with a number of posters, it’s insulting. Probably the best way to voice my unhappiness is to simply boycott Starbucks products, which is my intention.

    Let me add the following: For my part, I have lived in and around HP since 1975. I’ve been in my current home since 1994. I count amongst my friends and neighbors artists, educators, engineers, architects, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, salesman, writers, plumbers, electricians, actors… A wonderful, eclectic community. To voice my displeasure with this clear example of corporate shortcutting, I am asking my neighbors and community members to also boycott this store in particular and all Starbucks products in general.

  16. Thanks, Highland Parker for posting the customer service website for Starbucks. I just sent them the following:
    I have always been a fan of Starbucks mainly because you open early enabling me to stop and get a great latte before 7:00 when my local coffee houses are closed. Most mornings I stop and get a cup of coffee from the Silverlake store in Los Angeles before heading to the school where I am a teacher. I was thrilled to find out Starbucks was coming to my neighborhood and looked forward to getting my morning fix much closer to home, but when I saw it was mainly a drive-thru with no decent place to sit inside, I was completely let down. I have been to countless Starbucks up and down California and I can honestly say this is the worst store I have ever seen. I am saddened at the poor design, the lack of a decent indoor seating space, and the overall feel of this place. I feel like Starbucks underestimated my neighborhood. This is a neighborhood full of artists, designers, architect, teachers, engineers, and yes, blue collar workers too who buy your product and also enjoy beautiful spaces to sip coffee too. Many of us are offended by the blatant lack of tasteful design and decent planning with this new store. I honestly can say, even though I truly like your coffee, I will not be buying my coffee anymore from any Starbucks. The store I am referring to is located at 6240 York Blvd. LA, CA 90042. There are two other Starbucks stores two miles toward Eagle Rock on York and two miles toward South Pasadena on Fair Osks and those are both beautiful. Those stores are also in areas frequented by more Caucasians. I am deeply disappointed.

  17. A developer told me not long ago that the city specifications for building a drive-thru are much stricter than they once were … so acquiring a property with an existing drive-thru lane is considered a Very Big Deal. I imagine the Starbucks design team focused most of their attention on preserving the drive-thru. Hopefully(!!) there is some plan in place to upgrade/add interior seating later if the store shows a profit.

    Signed by someone who drinks plenty of strong home-brewed joe, but rarely sets foot inside a Starbucks anywhere….

  18. It’s a bit silly to expect a corporate entity such as Starbucks to be on the forefront of community revitalization. Starbucks is there to make money with the minimum liability. We should look to independent small business owners to make a meaningful investment in the community. This store is exactly what HP deserves as it is now – quick and easy drive through that doesn’t encourage the homeless to congregate. Why would Starbucks invest in original and thoughtful design when there’s a high likelihood the neighborhood will just turn back down and it will be robbed and tagged within months? Starbucks building a fancy store wouldn’t turn those odds down.

    • Sean,

      I have got news for you, you get homeless in the Studio City Starbucks. In fact you get them all over. I use Studio City as example because I have seen it myself, in fact saw it this week.

      Giving HP this poor excuse of a Starbucks(and it is bad, I mean you can’t even sit down and enjoy your coffee) due to homeless people is ridiculous.

      I for one will be contacting Starbucks(thank you to the person who provided the link) and will be boycotting them unless they actually do take some action and improve this one.

      I love these people who put down HP, if you can afford to buy a house for $500K and up, you must be doing somewhat OK.

      And I have to laugh at the amount of time this took…..LOL. Here I was looking forward to this opening after all these months, and you can’t even sit down.

  19. Years ago I was involved in the JackINbox at Fig and 43 as a community representative for HP. Jack wanted to put up a rather dull looking store, that would replace a abandoned gas station at that location. With the help of councilman Mike Hernandez we were able to convince Jack to do better than their stripped down version. They of course were very reluctant to provide HP with a nicer design. At the time they were also planning on a new store in So Pasadena. Which was a craftsman themed Jack, I was able to get the architectural drawings for the So Pasa location and with the help of Hernandez (he really put pressure on Jack). So Pasadena didn’t want a drive thru and said no to the store there and the Ave 46 and Fig Jack is what was planned for So Pasa. Its too bad the council office and the community were not on top of this Starbucks. and its design. Its dreadful and does not help move HP in a more positive direction. I disagree with those who say its what we deserve, thats rubbish.

  20. Is the nuclear thread word ” hipster” the new “hitler”?
    Demographically most of the houses bought in HP are Gen Xr’s , please place your GED based anger accordingly. It makes your argument limp while lacking in statistical data.

  21. This Starbucks looks like a truck stop to avoid, not a coffeeshop. For those people who say that this is what HP “deserves” – I guess you think only white people earning more than $100k a year “deserve” non-hideous surroundings?

    What’s especially off-putting about this store is that anybody with sense knows how closely Starbucks monitors its brand. This store is so off-brand, that it’s clear that they just did not give a flying fig about this neighborhood and that they grossly underestimated (or fear) the residents. Just because people are blue collar or not millionaires doesn’t mean they don’t have disposable income that they will choose to spend elsewhere. Starbucks depends on middle class consumers like me and my neighbors. Starbucks wants this neighborhood’s money but won’t put the effort in to earn it. I’m personally never going to this Starbucks while it looks like this.

  22. I think it’s funny when people get up in arms about a Starbuck’s when this area could quite possibly be THE capital of fast food restaurants. Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Jack Shit, and on and on. There are TONS of them. I guess it’s ok that those incredibly unethical, unhealthy, environmental terrorists are here, but not Starbucks!!! It’s ok that these restaurants have marketed straight up poison to our children, while abusing animals, but this Starbuck’s is where we draw the line?

    I do think the new Starbuck’s should be chastised for it’s drive through. Idling car emit a huge amount of exhaust. We should move away from drive throughs entirely. It’s a waste of gas and horrible for the environment, not to mention expensive.

  23. My whole issue with this Starbucks debate is that HP doesn’t deserve a nice one because of how “sketchy” the neighborhood is. The Starbucks on Crenshaw in Leimert Park is a far more “sketchy” area and it that SB is really nice. There are no million dollar homes anywhere near that one either. This SB is less than a mile from a slew of homes over 800K.

  24. Oh well, Guess I’ll just go to Antigua coffee on Fig like I always do.

  25. Dude, it’s a Starbucks..get over it. Fits right in with the “design sophistication” you alluded to.

    First world problems, don’t get your panties in a knot

  26. Wow, Lets really look at the obvious . . 1)There is what looks to be a 50 foot flag next door, 2) transformers on the power poles, 3)Apartments with security bars on the window and painted to fit in the background of a Miami Vice episode, 4) gum on the sidewalks that could be classified as fossils, graffiti and the greatest of all …. the previous building with banners and signage that would make NASCAR proud.

    Every one disappointed but why haven’t they taken point and help clean up the neighborhood, join the city council and actually try to make a change or at least pass the hat around and pitch in as a joint effort in investing $100,000.00 of their own money risking a 10 year commitment if in deed it was that bad.

    How about now that its done , ask if they can contribute their money to achieve an acceptable level community representation. After all the burger joint was doing wonders! They say opinions are like A-holes , full of shit and everyone has one !

  27. I don’t mean to cut this discussion “short,” but I’m guessing that it’ll be a “tall” order for Starbucks to redesign and remodel the store. It would cost a lot of money, una cantidad muy “grande,” if you will. Regardless, it’s good that people have a forum on which to “venti” their feelings.

  28. The truth is that Highland Park is a run-down neighborhood. And before you leave a nasty reply… yes, I lived there for 7 years. But I gave up on it. The mix of sad retail stores, an awful movie theater frequented by people who love to talk and bring screaming babies, plus too many cholitos & gang members prompted my move. It doesn’t surprise me that there was no thought of craftsmanship put into this store.

    • Glad you left. You obviously didn’t see the beauty of the neighborhood, a diamond in the rough, that is getting better and more vibrant every day. Don’t know what a “cholito” is, but I love seeing the mix of cultures — Latino, Asian, white, working class, creative class, hipster. Last week I was at Cafe de Leche and saw an older working class Latino couple in their 60s having a spirited conversation with a couple of white hipsters in their 20s. Love this neighborhood!

      • I’m so happy I left! I don’t have to constantly paint my outside walls or garage, because of tagging. I don’t have to deal with drunks hanging out by local markets or burger joints. I moved to an ethnically mixed area, and people care about it enough to not trash it. Hey, if you like HP, good for you… I’m just stating the fact that it is a run-down neighborhood, and despite new businesses trying to bring life to the area, it’s not a hip place. It’s just a sad neighborhood.

  29. You guys crack me up. WHO CARES what the place looks like? It’s a fecking STARBUCKS for crying out loud. They’ve build little shitty drive-thru stores all over town, so quit kvetching like a bunch of old nana’s. A Starbucks, in spite of all the scorn they engender from curmudgeonly espresso haters to corporate hawks, will improve the neighborhood. The only thing you should be complaining about is that the missing seating area is why coffee shops draw locals out into their community, and those people coming out of their homes and cars to frequent stores and shops is precisely what make communities “vibrant”… hopefully they’ll at least add more tables and benches in the old rail stop next door.

    • It’s not just how it looks, there is no place to sit inside. Don’t know about you but on a 95 degree day I don’t want to sit outside.

      One of the many things I love about HP is the many different type of people who live here and interacting with them. Can’t really do that a drive thru.

      I go to Starbucks maybe once a week at the most. But I was looking forward to this one, the one in Eagle Rock is a little too hectic for me and many times you can’t find a place to sit. And parking is terrible, as is getting back out onto Colorado. But if there is no place to sit inside, I can go get coffee elsewhere.

      Someone mentioned Antigua, every time I have gone I have had an enjoyable conversation with a worker or another customer.

      I’m Irish, we like to chat….LOL.

  30. I used the drive-thru today and it was a pleasant experience. For all of the complaints, this Starbucks is the nicest shop in the immediate vicinity. It is not an eyesore. It is not unwelcoming. I saw plenty of customers using the umbrella-shaded table area and the available “interior” seating – all were enjoying their drinks without much trouble. A Starbucks corporate representative was onsite taking photographs. Perhaps they are looking into a way to get all of these nag-hags to shut the hell up- Oops, I meant to say: work with this vibrant community on a mutually agreeable solution to the design flaws.

  31. Just because folks settled for mediocrity in design beforehand, doesn’t mean we have to now. it DOES matter how NEW businesses build and design within our community. There are many of us who expect more and will get more. The aesthetics of the immediate vicinity in which we shop, walk, live matter to us. The reason there are so many comments about the way Starbucks built this store is because there is a new awareness bubbling up in the neighborhood and mediocrity is not acceptable anymore. Apathy is not acceptable. Change does not happen overnight. Highland Park did not become a run down neighborhood over night and it is not going to be revitalized overnight, but you will see in the future a greater attention to cleaning up the neighborhood, community activism, cherishing and revitalizing historical buildings, etc. Just look at the new park on York and Ave. 50 coming to fruition right now, all the wonderfully restored store fronts on York, the gorgeous refurbishing of the Hot Yoga and the Greyhound on Fig just to name a few. Old, stuccoed over houses that have been neglected for years are getting restored in high numbers. Things are changing in good ways, but the old mentality of just accepting mediocrity because that is what we deserve will be a thing of the past in 20 years. Yes, it take years for great change. One store at a time. One business at a time.

    • Hear, hear! Love this! I live in Eagle Rock, but I spend a lot of time and money in HP and consider it part of my hood too. It’s amazing how quickly this neighborhood is turning around because of people like Alex K and many many others.

  32. I realize the article is about the sad state of the building’s architecture… but how is the service and coffee? I’m venturing it is like any other Starbucks.

    • it’s actually really bad. i went to try it out and they served me two iced coffees in cracked cups that spilled everywhere. i went back with the cups and they wouldn’t replace- i had to pay for new ones.

  33. Just something to consider . . .

    The area I live in has a handful of very typical, new, beautiful Starbucks. People love them, and they are always packed. A few years back, 2 new Starbucks were built: Starbucks Drive-thru! We were all SO EXCITED! They have no seating at all . . .just a drive through. It happens that they are just as loved as the full-service locations. And, you plan. If you want to meet a friend for coffee, you go to a different location. If you have a sleeping baby in the back, you are in luck, because you can go through this drive-thru and never have to turn the engine off or wake the baby. 🙂

    Don’t get me wrong. This HP location is really sad and ugly. I think where they went wrong was having seating at all. It should have just been made into a nice-looking drive-thru only, and no one would have complained.

  34. Can the restroom be relocated too? Tear down the front cage looking facade. Open it up! Can we now make it the BEST LOOKING Starbucks in America?

  35. If I were Starbucks Corporate, I would padlock and board up this place tomorrow and tell everyone in the community to go F’ themselves. I would lay money they will take out the drive-thru , figure out some sort of seating areas inside and out and then close this place by this time next year.

  36. Ah yes the classic “riot bunker” See also Food4Less, CVS, Smart n Final… juuust in case.

  37. Whose is the Councilmember for the Highland Park Starbucks? Who’s planning staff completely dropped the ball and let a big corporation drop this dung heap? Councilmember Mike Hernandez was totally on top of Jack in Box when it tried to put one of its junky, boxy, mansard roof things there. When the store opened, I personally sent a letter of thanks to Jack in Box. Incredibly, I got a letter back from the “Public Relations” Department of Jack in the Box complaining about having the build anything other than its standard building. I sent the letter back to the President and asked him if this is the way his company treated someone who was trying to compliment them? I got a letter of apology.

    At the time of permitting, the Council office has the most power over a project like the Starbucks. For one of our Councilmembers to allow this to go through shows how little our Councilmembers actually “care” about the communities the supposely represent. They pretend to listen at a few public meetings, but most time is spent courting wealthy donors.
    We must kill Citizens United before it kills us.

  38. 75 comments over a fucking starbucks? give me a break.

    who cares? if you know even a little bit about good coffee, you won’t be going there anyhow.

  39. Here is an idea , instead of making noise about the UGLY building , why don’t you guys get together and do a little volunteer work on it and improve your neighborhood . Or is that asking too much ? It is so simple to complain and blame the responsibility on whoever , If it is important to you , take some action and give something more than advice ! It is your neighborhood after all !

  40. Just went there today. Sign in the drive-thru says, “need a coffee break? Come on in.” Hilarious. There is no in.

  41. Funny that it looks as creative as a ATM. To SBUX that’s probably exactly what it is right now.

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