Update: Starbucks Withdraws Liquor License Application

The popular chain had focused on Coronado as its first California outlet to serve beer and wine, but the city protested.

Update, 7:15 p.m. Monday with comments from city officials, Starbucks, police and the state.


, which is looking to expand in the community, has .

The city announced the development Monday afternoon, after confirmation from the state, which oversees liquor licenses, and a senior manager for government affairs with the popular coffee chain. 

The city quoted the Starbucks official, Kim Winston, who said via email that “based on our due diligence process and our respect of the Coronado community, Starbucks took self-selected and proactive actions to pull its application.” The move took place Friday, according to the city.

In an email to Patch, a Starbucks spokeswoman added “that the reaction from our loyal Coronado customers has been overwhelmingly positive” to , which included beer and wine options, along with new food choices.

The spokeswoman also said the company was “disappointed that the Coronado City Council took the unusual action of voting on our application without hearing directly from us or our customers about our plans,” though she added that the chain “respect(s) their decision.”

Starbucks had planned to begin selling beer and wine in Coronado by year's end, after successful experiments in Seattle and other stores. Up to six outlets in Southern California, along with others in Chicago and Atlanta, were set to be part of the expanded trial.

, and community leaders said they had filed letters challenging it as well.

While City Manager Blair King sent a letter to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control department protesting the application on the city’s behalf, Jennifer Hill, director of the agency's San Diego office, said the only valid protest came from the Coronado Police Department.

The police objection was based on “over-concentration of licenses in the area,” Chief Lou Scanlon said. The city protest didn’t have a legal basis, so it couldn’t be considered, he explained. 

Which is exactly what Councilwoman Carrie Downey told her colleagues when they took the vote to oppose the proposal to serve beer and wine at Starbucks.  

She and Mayor Casey Tanaka cast the votes against sending a letter to the state. Downey had urged the city to write the chain directly.

“I am very pleased that Starbucks did the right thing as a corporation and listened to the Coronado community,” she said. She added that “the power of public opinion helped persuade Starbucks that our community was not a good place to test their new business model.” 

Plans to serve beer and wine at what has become a popular after-school hang out stirred protest from parent groups. Andrea Webster, Coronado SAFE's executive director, urged the council to take action. 

When contacted about Starbucks' decision, Webster had no comment. SAFE President Scott Barr explained that “it was not for us to be making comments on business is our community.”

The Starbucks' spokeswoman also said that the company, despite the setback, looks “forward to continuing to be an important gathering place for the Coronado community.”

And it appears to be expanding. In a Friday report, the city manager noted that on May 22 the Planning Commission is set to hear about Starbucks' interest in opening a new store at 135 Orange Ave., an area becoming popular for eateries.


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