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Franchise coffee coming to Tahoe City

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Five coffee houses line North and West Lake Boulevard from one side of Tahoe City to the other, and a new one will make its way in this summer.

Starbucks is slated to open its doors in the Customs House building, known to some as the Loverde building, across from Safeway in late May or early June.

“We’re very excited to come to Tahoe City,” said new manager Jeff Boyer.

Boyer said he is not worried about how people will react to a new Starbucks location.

“Starbucks typically benefits smaller communities it comes into,” he said. “I can tell you we have made positive contributions to the communities we are in around the lake … people love us.”

The shop plans to join the Tahoe City Downtown Association and play an active role, as well as partner with local libraries and schools as part of a literacy initiative.

“The more people learn about Starbucks, the more accepting they are. And they see what we’re really about,” said Boyer. “It’s a company that really stand by its mission statement and core values.”

Some Tahoe City cafe owners say they are not concerned with the corporation coming to town, while others are upset with the introduction of an additional coffee house.

“We really don’t mind at all. It’s free trade, free enterprise. We say go ahead and try and compete with the local goodness,” said Glenn Campbell, who owns the Dam Cafe with his wife.

While the Starbucks name is more recognizable, Campbell says his business has a strong local following and he doesn’t think the corporation can compete with the experience and product he provides.

Livia Simmons grew up in Tahoe City and has worked at the Coffee Connexion for more than two years. She says she is angry that another cafe is coming to town and that they won’t understand the local business community.

“The money [spent at Starbucks] isn’t going to be pumped into the community,” she said. “A small town like this suffers more than a big city.”

Other local employees agree.

“As a community member I don’t think it’s good because it will take away from local businesses. I think it’s all about supporting local businesses,” said Julie Lorberbaum, a barista at Syd’s Bagelry.

But Simmons said she doesn’t think the 17-year business will be negatively affected by having a Starbucks across the street.

“There isn’t much else we can do,” Simmons said. “We don’t see our business suffering because we have such a local base.”

Owners of the Tahoe House agree that another coffee shop seems unnecessary, particularly one that may be large in size, but they think being farther away from the new establishment may work to their advantage.

“We are on the West Shore and we’re hoping it won’t make much of a difference for us,” said Helen Vogt, who owns the Tahoe House with her family.

There are other Starbucks locations in the area, including in Truckee, Squaw Valley, Incline Village and inside Safeway stores in Tahoe City and Kings Beach.

“Competition, quote unquote, can sometimes be good for business,” Campbell said.


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