Coffee giant Starbucks plans to open soon in Lakewood and the local competition says 'bring it on'

Posted at 9:20 AM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 17:43:57-04

LAKEWOOD, Ohio — Local coffee shops in Lakewood say they are not worried about the arrival of Starbucks coming to an area that prides itself on local, small businesses.

Heather Mariano opened her coffee shop a year and a half ago when she realized there weren't many places for moms and their kids to spend time.

"That was kind of hard to find," said Mariano. "There were certain places we could go, but I love the atmosphere of coffee shops."

Mariano makes a drink for a customer in Play Grounds.

When she opened up Play Grounds, she meant the name literally.

Coffee is served in the front with an area for kids to play in the back of the coffee shop.

A play area for kids in the back of Play Grounds gives children a place to have fun while their parents sit at the cafe's tables.

"People are coming here for connection, community, conversation, not just picking up a quick drink," said Mariano.

Even the competition for business in Lakewood's coffee scene is friendly.

A toy car waits for a child to pick it up at Play Grounds.

"The owner of Brewella's stopped in today because I was running out of coffee filters," said Mariano. "He ran out of cold brew filters a few months ago so I brought them over to him."

A few blocks away, the old Burger King at 15027 Detroit Road in Lakewood is being transformed into the city's first Starbucks right across the street from Julie Hutchison's The Root Cafe.

The new Starbucks will use the building where Burger King just shut down at the end of March.

"I really thought we missed the whole Starbucks wave," said Hutchison.

She says Starbucks and the local coffee spots might all serve a similar product but they do it in drastically different ways.

Starbucks plans to keep the drive through that was part of Burger King's building. City officials tell News 5 that means the building can't be closed for more than six months.

"Especially with Starbucks catering to their drive through, it's a totally different culture than what we try to cultivate here," said Hutchison.

Just like Mariano focuses on being kid-friendly, Hutchison has created a spot where customers can sit down and enjoy a meal or have a meeting along with their cup of joe.

The Root Cafe showcases local vendors on a table near the front of the store.

At one point, Hutchison says the local coffee shops came together to host an art gallery for middle and high school art classes, displaying the work on all of their walls.

Both women also serve coffee that's locally roasted from places like Phoenix coffee, Rising Star, and Duck Rabbit.

The Root Cafe displays a book and other products for sale that support local the local creative community.

"So we help the community and then in return the community comes here and uses our space in the ways that they should be," said Hutchison.

That's why Hutchison isn't worried she'll soon be able to see the new Starbucks going in right across the street, pitting big chains against the locally-owned and operated coffee shops.

Play Grounds sits a few blocks away from the new Starbucks location but is part of a larger coffee shop community throughout Lakewood.

"This community is as proud as any community to support our small business owners," said Lakewood Director of Planning and Development Bryce Sylvester. "I don't think we're necessarily looking for a certain balance between the two but Lakewood has created conditions that creates that balance for itself."

Among the local shops, there's even a thought that the move could help boost business for everyone. Hutchison says it's an age-old approach in the service industry.

Decorated macaroons on display in Play Grounds.

"If you're a restaurant, you're going to want to be around other restaurants because then people know that's the district to go to get food," said Hutchison.

In an industry where the casual coffee drinker might not know the difference between a latte, cappuccino, or macchiato, more coffee shops mean more chances to educate paying customers.

"People may start drinking something that they haven't had before and that may just traverse over the boundaries of other coffee shops that are around town," said Mariano.

Starbucks responded with the statement below:

Starbucks is always looking for great locations to better meet the needs of our customers, and we can confirm that we will open a new location at 15027 Detroit Road in Lakewood, OH this summer. This new store will offer a drive-thru option for customers and will employ approximately 20 partners (employees). We are excited to join the Lakewood community and look forward to serving as a gathering place for everyone while building stronger connections with the community both inside and outside our stores.