West Englewood community welcomes first Starbucks location

CHICAGO (WLS) — The first Starbucks location in West Englewood is now open at 58th Street and Western Avenue, near the border of Gage Park.

A new coffee shop may not usually get such a reception, however, the opening comes amid other retailers closing.

“Western Avenue is the street that bridges the Black and brown community,” 16th Ward Ald. Stephanie Coleman said. “It was once the home of Jewel and Pizza Hut, and just a thriving retail district.”

The store manager, Ophelia Alvarez, grew up in the area and said they hired 35 people from the neighborhood.

“Shows growth for everyone,” Alvarez said. “No matter who you are, no matter what you look like, you can come here and you can grow and find a place to belong.”

The Whole Foods that was located nearby on 63rd Street close last year, and a new grocery took its place amid push back from some Englewood residents.

“We are just thankful Starbucks saw an opportunity to seek a vacant piece of property to bring back that yearn, that drive for retail and most importantly job opportunities for this community,” Coleman said.

The Starbucks in the Englewood neighborhood remained on 63rd Street. Starbucks’ District manager Akeisha Walker said stores in these locations make good business sense.

“Black and brown communities are consumers also, and we like to have some of the same things other communities have and we support them and we show up,” Walker said.

Rogelio Richart Jr., the owner of Xpress Auto & Tire next door, said this is a win-win scenario.

“I’m glad this place opened up, not just for the community, but for me I’m right next door,” Richart Jr. said. “People sit here and they see Xpress Auto & Tire.”

The hope for the community is other retailers will move into nearby communities to offer business to residents willing and wanting to shop local.