BOSTON (CBS) – Let me get something straight right off the top – I am not a Starbucks guy. I don’t mind a “gourmet” cup of coffee once in awhile, but you will tend to find me in line at Dunkin Donuts for my small iced with skim and sugar, year-round, of course.

But the recent uproar in the North End over a proposal to put a new Starbucks there has me wondering what, exactly, the fuss is all about? As Nestor Ramos of the Boston Globe pointed out in a recent column, the shuttered bank is an eyesore, and the proximity of several other Starbucks outlets to the historic neighborhood hasn’t seemed to pose much of a threat. Yet at emotional public meetings, critics painted a dire picture of local businesses closing and undesirable elements flocking to use the Starbucks bathrooms.

Starbucks wanted to put a new shop at the site of this closed Citizens Bank in the North End. (WBZ-TV)

Listen, I love my hometown’s historic charm as much as anybody, did my part to fight the idea of tearing down Fenway Park, and bemoaned how they destroyed the West End back in the day. But the success of the local stop-Starbucks effort and proposals to put even more roadblocks in the way of retail chain store investment seem more parochial and shortsighted than preservational.

A rendering of the proposed Starbucks in the North End. (Image credit: North End Piazza on the Greenway – Facebook)

Starbucks wasn’t talking about putting up a parking lot. Their stores are clean, popular community gathering spots, well within the parameters of positive neighborhood development. Big chains with deep pockets can and do drive rents up, but that’s the work of local landlords, not Starbucks executives.

North Enders want to control what happens in their neighborhood, and that’s fine. But I have advice for some who are going overboard with the protectionism – time to switch to decaf.

Your comments are welcome via email at, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Comments (2)
  1. In many ways, Jon, Starbucks has become the symbol of much that is wrong with our society…elitism, special treatment, overpriced merchandise, dubious quality.

    Personally, the only time I buy Starbucks is when I am desperate for a cup of coffee and there is no alternative around…

    And, I never get that desperate for a coffee from anyplace.

    And just look at all the scandals that have plagued Starbucks with their “baristas” not understanding that demeaning comments written on the cups aren’t appreciated by the customer.

  2. Jon, you have no idea what youre talking about. They are not “local” landlords, Charter Realty. And it seems to me that you have no sense of neighborhood and family. This is not about money, it’s much deeper than your narrow mind can comprehend. You are on the outside looking in. You were not at ANY of the prior meetings with the landlord/developer. You actually are commenting on something that you have no idea about. I suggest you do some research before speaking about my community. How dare you.

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