In Pacific Beach, San Diego the Sonic Drive-In recently shut down. Located on the busy end of Garnet Avenue leading to Interstate 5, a lot of cars pass by this location. At any time of day you can find lanes of cars stuck in traffic waiting for lights to change, so you’d think this location was highly desirable for many businesses.
So what goes into the vacant space? Starbucks.
This is the fourth Starbucks in the 92109 zip code. One is located on Grand Ave., and the other two are also off of Garnet Ave. Plus, there is a Starbucks inside the Vons on Garnet.
It seems likely that the new location will just add traffic to the already busy stretch of road. It also makes people wonder how the brand can afford so many locations in one neighborhood. This is not a cheap area, and there’s a lot of competition. Pacific Beach has its share of local coffee chains like Better Buzz, plus there are the existing Starbucks shops.
Why Are There So Many Starbucks?
The explanation for the additional Starbucks is quite simple: demand. If people are going to the stores, the brand will add new locations.
There’s no doubt Starbucks expands in areas where they know they will be profitable. The addition of a new location should be an indicator that San Diegans love their Starbucks. This is also an indicator that San Diego is a market where new customer initiatives can be introduced.
In 2020, Starbucks COO Roz Brewer stated the chain would introduce up to 22,000 new stores. Particularly, the stores would focus on busy, suburban areas. During the pandemic, Starbucks has been reevaluating the ways they serve customers with the goal of reducing lines and wait times.
Starbucks stores generally fall into one of two categories. One type of store is more focused on experience. These are locations that may have more seating for customers. You’ll fine many people sitting down and working while other spaces will be used for gatherings.
The other type of Starbucks location is focused on convenience. These are the stores that want you to be a loyalty member and place your order on your phone. They probably have drive-thrus and experiment with new ways of retrieving your order. During the pandemic, many stores (including Starbucks) offered car-side delivery. A place like Sonic is accustomed to bringing orders to car windows. Starbucks will likely put this parking lot to good use. The new location should have ample space for car-side deliveries and on-the-go orders.
What Does This Mean For San Diego?
While many stores are closing, some bigger chains are going to try to poach the empty space. This will be especially true if there’s a vacancy in a busy location. Starbucks sees the Pacific Beach community and they know they’ll make money with an additional restaurant. As passengers sit in traffic, they might be tempted to order coffee during their commute.
Larger cities like San Diego will likely see more Starbucks popping up. Not only are Californians addicted to the caffeine, the brand is also focused on convenience. Lines at neighboring Starbucks may see a slight reduction due to the new location. Traffic at Starbucks might be down, but locals have their own concerns. The new location might be convenient for coffee addicts, but there’s little regard for the existing street traffic. Hopefully this initiative doesn’t hurt the community and increase commute times.
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