Makeover to begin soon for Highland Park’s “depressing” Starbucks

The Highland Park Starbucks on York Boulevard

HIGHLAND PARK —  The neighborhood’s first Starbucks – aka “The Most Depressing Starbucks in America” – is finally going to start seeing some of the changes the coffee store chain promised last summer after the outlet’s design met with heavy criticism.

Some residents have expressed their impatience by the lack of change at the York Boulevard outlet, a former hamburger stand that was converted into a drive-thru Starbucks last summer. “The communities are now left with the UGLIEST store ever built by Starbucks,” said Tina G. Miller in a Facebook comment. “When is the remodel going to happen???”

Starbucks spokeswoman Haley Drage said the remodel was delayed after it took longer than expected to receive the the necessary city permits. Those permits were issued at the end of last month, according to an online summary on the city’s Department of Building & Safety website.  Drage said the changes should be completed by the end of March.

While the Highland Park Starbucks will still lack an indoor seating area, the company pledged to make several changes following stories in The Eastsider and other media sites:

  • Additional storefront windows where customers order which will increase contact with employees. There will be one window to order and another to pick up.
  • Relocating and screening the bathroom door
  • Removing salvaged windows and installing roll-up doors
  • Converting the planter in front to sidewalk seating and creating two pedestrian entrances of the sidewalk.
  • Replacing the roll-up metal doors with two large recycled wood doors that slide barn door style.
  • Enhancing the side patio experience through a trellis and lighting

Drage said the company erred on designing a Starbucks focused on drive-thru customers instead of one that would cater to sit-down coffee drinkers. “We did not create the right experience for that neighborhood,” she said.


  1. Ne signage and repainting the building a happier color would help. The depressing tan color makes it look like a highway rest stop.

  2. Even with its depressing look, that Starbucks is always busy! Not from me because I choose not to buy a $4 cup of coffee. My home brew is much better for me and my wallet!

  3. it matters not what they do to it…it’s still starbucks, and thus still depressing.

  4. I have to give the company credit for listening and doing something about the community’s anger about this outlet. Social media amplified the public outcry to a pitch that could not be ignored, and good for Starbucks for paying attention.

  5. All I wanna know is: will I be able to put cream in my own coffee? This is the only Starbucks I’ve ever seen that doesn’t have accoutrements availble for its customers.

  6. It’s about time! And, to all of our wonderful elected officials and want-a-be politicians – I hope you learned your lesson – Let’s NO longer sell out Highland Park to the cheapest salesman pitch! Demand the best for your community!!! Make us proud!!!

  7. I am not sure that Starbucks will be able to salvage the mess it created at the former drive through hamburger stand. The site is already extremely underparked for those who try to visit as a walk-in. It just speaks volumes about the company that thinks it can put the bathroom door next to the order window. And failing to provide indoor seating is a real insult. I would still encourage people to go to the independent and locally owned coffee shops rather than support a company that has clearly exhibited its disdain and distrust of the community it supposedly “serves.” Boycott Starbucks.

  8. Melanie – I agree. It’s impossible to park at that site, and dangerous to enter as a pedestrian, given that one has to cross the drive-through lane. Add in ugly, depressing, and the poorly placed bathroom, and the product is not enough to get my business. I’d rather choose a local business or my own home brew.

  9. This place sucks. Starbucks can make promises but they can’t put lipstick on a pig. This location was horribly designed from the get go and built with complete contempt for the type of community they thought they were putting it into. Nothing short of a complete overhaul will make any difference. I’ve stopped patronizing all Starbucks since this abomination.

  10. I have never been to this Starbucks since it opened and I walk by it or across the street about 3 times a week. I got a single pod coffee thing and use that mostly, but sometimes I want to buy something at a coffee-shop and take in the aroma, read a paper and people watch. This spot doesnt appeal to me despite it being a 10 minute walk away. I guess it is fine for those in cars and those that just take it to go.

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