Remodeling and reopening Coffee Houses
The name may have changed but the coffee remains, as Starbucks celebrated the opening of its newest store Saturday, at the former Diedrich's Café across from the mission in downtown San Juan.
The café became the first of 20 former Diedrich locations slated to reopen as Starbucks in the coming weeks. The store had been closed since November, following its sale to Starbucks in September.
While the café marks the fourth Starbucks in the city, its key location on the corner of Ortega Highway and Camino Capistrano makes it the company's flagship store in the community.
"I was jokingly stating that this isn't just a national Starbucks, it's an international Starbucks," said Jason Sena, store manager. "Just yesterday I probably heard about half a dozen accents from tourists coming to the community to see the mission."
The historic nature of the building was foremost on designers' minds during the remodel of the café, Starbucks officials said.
"(We wanted) to maintain the heritage of the area, of the downtown environment, and the heritage of the store, since it is a historic building," said Tom McMahon, Starbucks regional vice president. "When you enter the store you have a warm feeling of connection and a great historic coffee shop experience."
Plenty of long-time coffee lovers visited the café for its ribbon cutting Saturday, many of whom had been regulars at the location during its time as a Diedrich's.
"We were both impressed. They did a real good job of remodeling, but keeping the old flavor of the mission theme," said Joneen Holleran, while enjoying a cup of coffee with her husband Pat. "This is one of our favorite spots since it is so beautiful."
Others were glad that Starbucks had retained some of the café's defining characteristics, including its large bay windows and historic architecture.
"There were certain features of Diedrich's that I really liked, such as the shelving in the back, which gave it kind of an old San Juan feel," said Ann Grose, who visited the café Saturday with her husband Bob. "I think they did a really nice job. They kept the feel and the warmth."
The return of a coffee shop to the high profile location is also a boost to the downtown community, residents said.
"All the local businesses are astir with excitement about its opening," said Eric Bergstrom.
Starbucks officials have already begun reaching out to the local community, announcing the donation of $500 to Serra's Pantry Saturday. So far visitors have embraced the new café, Bergstrom said.
"I've not had one confrontation or negative remark in regards to Starbucks versus Diedrich's," he said. "It's actually been pretty positive, which is great."
The opening of the remaining former Diedrich's Café locations across Southern California will continue over the next couple months, with one a week expected to open for the next 12 weeks.
"I can't wait for those who don't realize we are open to get the news and come on down to see a beautiful building, enjoy a great cup of coffee and get a chance to mingle not only with the local community, but with international tourists as well," Sena said.