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Starbucks cafe chain makes city feel grande

The chain's first Largo store will open this fall at East Bay Drive and Starkey Road. It will include a drive-through.

By SHANNON TAN
Published June 22, 2004

LARGO - Starbucks devotees, rejoice: Pricey coffee is finally coming to Largo.

The city's first Starbucks is scheduled to open early this fall at East Bay Drive and Starkey Road, the site of a former gas station that was boarded up.

The 1,400-square-foot Starbucks will have a drive-through and indoor and outdoor seating.

"Customer requests for a Starbucks in Largo played a significant role in our decision to open a store here," said Jerry Thorpe, Starbucks Florida marketing manager.

Two retail shops will be paired with Starbucks in the 4,975-square-foot building, although it is unclear what the stores will be selling.

The coffee chain submitted its plans last year, and construction is expected to be completed in August.

"I know a lot of people can't wait, especially the reviewers for the city of Largo," said Richard Bowman, project manager of Avid Engineering in Palm Harbor.

Bowman, who lives in Tampa, is a "traditionalist" who favors tall vanilla lattes.

He likes the idea of a drive-through Starbucks where customers can "just pick up and go instead of waiting in line." The building will have about 43 parking spaces.

The Tampa Bay area already has dozens of Starbucks, including coffee bars inside Albertsons grocery stores. In Clearwater alone, there's a Starbucks downtown, at Clearwater Mall and at SuperTarget.

The Seattle chain has more than 7,500 retail locations in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and the Pacific Rim.

"They're getting as bad as Walgreens and Eckerd," Bowman said.

But not everyone at City Hall is buzzing over Starbucks coming to Largo.

"I'm not a coffee drinker," said Alissa Venditto, a city planner.

- Shannon Tan can be reached at shtan@sptimes.com or 445-4174.

[Last modified June 21, 2004, 21:19:08]


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