Starbucks Moving Into The French Quarter?

After Hurricane Katrina, La Madeleine, a cafe and bakery that had occupied space in the French Quarter for 23 years, moved out, claiming that it didn’t get enough of a break on its rent following the storm. Now the site sits vacant, waiting for its next tenant. Will it be Starbucks?

The idea is causing a bit of a dust-up among people who feel the location is too prominent for a Starbucks, and should go to a local business. From the Times Picayune:

Java giant Starbucks Coffee Co. and local restaurateur and chef Scott Boswell are competing for the lease on the old la Madeleine space in Jackson Square’s Lower Pontalba Building.

The withdrawal of la Madeleine, which still operates several other locations in the metro area, opens up a high-profile location in one of the city’s most popular tourism corridors. Don Schwarcz of SRSA Commercial Real Estate said the 3,000-square-foot corner site is a solid retail location that should command top-dollar rents.

The idea of Starbucks taking over doesn’t seem to be sitting well with the internet, one blogger claims:

Even if it means chaining ourselves to the vacant storefront that once housed Le Madeliene (yes, another chain, albeit a smaller one and certainly the lesser of the two evils) with our leftover Mardi Gras beads we have to do everything in our power to keep Starbucks from setting up camp.

Let the debate on the relative merits of the Starbuckification of New Orleans begin. —MEGHANN MARCO

Starbucks, local restaurateur, vying for La Madeleine site on Jackson Square [Times-Picayune via Blogging New Orleans via Starbucks Gossip]
(Photo:chuckp)

Comments

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  1. cgmaetc says:

    Ahhh.. I love the smell of gentrification in the morning.

  2. Nick says:

    @cgmaetc: better than New Orleans’s normal smell.

  3. bambino says:

    eh, it’s just going to get flooded again, so let ‘em have it.

  4. cudthecrud says:

    hey bambino. I hope your house gets destroyed by a natural disaster before you open your mouth about New Orleans again.

  5. B says:

    If they want it to go to a local business, they should decrease the rent. I’d rather it’s a starbucks than a nothing, like it is now. I’m not from New Orleans, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

  6. Starbucks may be one of those evil corporations, but at least they have good coffee. Stupidly expensive coffee, in sizes I can’t pronounce, but still, tasty. (If only they’d keep Cider out all year!). If you don’t like Starbucks, don’t go in, but the real reason they’re so prominant is because they DO make good coffee, and people around the areas they install Starbucks can afford their butthole-ish prices.

    Not allowing Starbucks to plop their fat-cat asses down is wrong if no one else wants the spot. And anyway, if some other coffee shop DID open, maybe they can start producing good coffee at a lower price, and force Starbucks out of business. All hail Mom’s Coffee Shop, the next big evil corporation!

    As a side note, while a friend was in Costa Rica, they picked up coffee labeled “From the Plantation to Your Cup!” Slave labor makes the coffee taste better. Mom says so.

  7. B says:

    @cudthecrud: I’m guessing bambino didn’t choose to live in a place that’s below sea level and prone to be hit by hurricanes, though.

  8. cudthecrud says:

    That area of the french quarter is above sea level anyways. And it smells like mule crap.

  9. djanes1 says:

    The french quarter didn’t flood. As to who occupies this spot, who cares? Probably only people who dislike Starbucks for no reason, and would much rather drink bad coffee at the Rue and hope people walking by notice their hip Mac and accessories.

  10. Aeroracere says:

    Fuck Starbucks. Before long they’ll be moving in to Cafe du Monde too. NOLA needs the locals to come back, not corporations to move in.

  11. Mr. Gunn says:

    B: I guess you live where no tornado, earthquake, or flood will ever strike. Please don’t let this turn into on of those threads. I’m tired after the “we should all be suspicious of Muslims” thread.

  12. Mr. Gunn says:

    B: We take our opinions with a shot, down here.

  13. SadSam says:

    Hmmmm…. somehow I’m not surprised that some of the charming, local and regional businesses are not going to survivie as NoLa puts iteself back together. Sad to think about it, but if Starbucks can make it and add money and jobs than so be it.

  14. Mr. Gunn says:

    Starbucks has a lease on a property further up Magazine that they’ve done nothing with since the storm, but won’t sell, so it’s not like they’re desperate for a site.

    The New Orleans way would be to let them move in, charge them out the ass in rent, and let them worry when the off-season hits and tourists stop going in.

  15. Triteon says:

    @schwnj: I describe the usual odor as the 3 P’s: puke, piss and Pine-Sol.

  16. B says:

    @Mr. Gunn: Tornados: Hardly ever. Hurricanes: we get a Category 1 about once every 20 years. Earthquakes: hasn’t happened in 200 years. Floods: I’m too high up for those. Blizzards: All the time.

  17. Mr.Purple says:

    @cudthecrud: I kinda like the smell of mule crap…

  18. RandomHookup says:

    I’ll have a venti half-caf, low fat chicory, no foam.

  19. FatLynn says:

    You can hate Starbuck’s and its gentrification all you want, but the company is known for treating its employees really well. A new employer that provides benefits to even its part-time employees? Wait, that kinda sounds like a good thing!

  20. bambino says:

    @cudthecrud: Let’s see, your moronic response may be on account of 2 things: 1) You love Sbux coffee & would never want to see them hit with a flood, in which case I couldn’t care less. OR 2) You believe that NO will never flood again. If in fact you do believe this, then hey, buy the biggest mansion on the mississippi you can & live like a king buddy! Oh & btw, B is correct in that I’ve chosen to live in an area prone to very few natural disasters. Call it long-term investing, call it intelligence, just don’t call me when you’re underwater again.

  21. scott5834 says:

    I’m not sure about Cafe du Monde, but at least Starbucks provides health insurance to its workers.

  22. cudthecrud says:

    bambino, I’ll just call you callous.

  23. kerry says:

    As much as I love supporting local businesses and dislike starbucks’ coffee, I’m going to have to agree with those who say that big business is better than no business. People need jobs, they need medical benefits, and New Orleans needs some reason for people to come back. Anything to help those goals is good, even if it doesn’t fit some utopian ideal.

  24. JustThisGuy says:

    1. Starbucks coffee is crap. They burn the beans and it tastes like charcoal.

    2. Cafe du Monde kicks ass. I’m very fond of their chicory coffee.

    That said, I have nothing against Starbucks as a company. They treat their employees fairly, and none of their practices strike me as unethical, relatively speaking. They, are generally speaking, much better than (name of favorite evil corporation here).

  25. Mr. Gunn says:

    bambino: Let’s see…does anyone in your area get subsidized natural gas in the winter?

    Let’s not turn this into one of those threads. Plenty of cities are built in such a way that if it were not for their defenses, they’d be destroyed by natural disasters. Would you laugh at Seattle if they get struck by a lahar? Are you laughing at those people in California whose houses get destroyed by wildfires?

    If you just haven’t considered this fact, it’s ok. We don’t all think through every opinion we have to make sure it’s logically consistent. It’s only bad if you continue to hold such a opinion when you should know better.

  26. GearheadGeek says:

    The reason Starbucks is so popular is NOT that they have the best coffee ever, it’s the same as McDonald’s. Americans like predictability. They know what McDonald’s tastes like, and even if the local burger shop next door MIGHT taste better, they’re not willing to take a risk and try something new so they line up like sheep at McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, etc.

  27. Sudonum says:

    That location is a stones throw from the original Cafe Du Monde. I seriously doubt that Starbucks is going to do enough busniess to pay the rent. If you’re a tourist in the Quarter right off Jackson Square, are you going to go to Starbucks or walk another block to sit at Cafe Du Monde and soak up some local culture? It’s also right there with all the fortune tellers and sketch artists, and I doubt they’ll pay for Starbucks.

    And those of you hating on NOLA. There’s a reason the French built a city there, and there’s a reason that Thomas Jefferson bought it, and that reason is still valid today. There will always be people living and working near the mouth of the river.

  28. capstinence says:

    I’m sorry, but the reason Starbucks is so popular here (in Baton Rouge) is because all the other coffee shops are terrible. CC’s is the local coffee shop here (selling local coffee), and I’ve been in there ONE time. Once I saw them drop a blackened espresso shot into my drink (which means the shot has been sitting out for more than ten seconds and has been effectively ruined), I left and never went back. I’ve heard similar reports from other people who have gone to local coffee shops. In fact, now that I work at TheBux, I daily watch people come in with coffee from other places, throw it away, and come get coffee from us. You say “predictability” but what you mean is “consistency.”

    We’ve also had a lot of employees come to us from other coffee shops due to the great benefits (I’ve been working there six months part-time and now have health insurance and could start a 401k and/or purchase stocks at an employee rate if I so desired. I’ve never had benefits before as an employee, much less a part-time employee.

    The beans we get aren’t much different from other coffee shops, so if you’re buying whole bean coffee, it doesn’t really matter where you go (unless you want a specific specialty coffee that we receive once a quarter). But as far as quality drinks, again I’d argue consistency is what people look for and is a desirable quality in any company.

  29. quail says:

    La Madeliene, ah how I remember thee. If it was the original owner, a Frenchman trying to bring French sensibilities to the US then I would cry over the loss. Still a decent, overpriced, eatery with wonderful almond croissants it is but a shell of its former self. The French Quarter can and will do better.

    Ditto on the Cafe Du Monde’s chicory coffee. Great stuff!

  30. RoyInHell says:

    If Starbucks were to move into the Quarter, it would set a dangerous precedent… the thing I love most about the FQ is the refreshing lack of chain stores. If you must have Starbucks/McDonalds/(insert crappy chain here), all you need to do is leave the Quarter, and they are all there waiting for you fools and your money.

    The reason Starbucks is doing well has NOTHING to do with the quality of their coffee (which IMO is terrible)… it’s more about being able to buy something for $5 and sit at a table for hours (usually pretentiously writing on a laptop).

  31. GearheadGeek says:

    Well, consistently having no bloody clue what a macchiato is doesn’t make it an outstanding coffee shop. I can’t say CC’s is the best coffee shop in the world (I went to grad school in New Orleans) but I can say I’ve had much better coffee for less than Starbucks.

    Starbucks is not awful, unless of course you like a real macchiato. They’re just not as good as their popularity would suggest and I’d be sad if they were the only coffee shop in the US.

  32. deety says:

    Everyone saying “better a Starbucks than having no business there at all” may want to keep in mind that there is a local business owner who wants the space for a new restaurant.

    The choice is not between Starbucks and nothing, it’s between a large chain and something with a little more character.

  33. StudioGeek says:

    Ill start this by saying I grew up in the French Quarter, and now live in Los Angeles – capital of Commercialization…

    Roy, I agree with you, but there IS a McDonalds in the Quarter, its on Royal @ Canal. It opened about 13 years ago… But the La Madeline location has been empty since Katrina, and while it sucks to bring them in, its better for the economy to have SOMEONE in there – they wont put Cafe Du Monde, less than a block away out of business.

    It would be better to have a local pastry shop there, and not more coffee…

  34. AcidReign says:

    …..I expect Starbucks will do ok, there, but not great. There are some tourists who will head right to BK, McDonalds, Shoneys, and Starbucks, because it’s a familiar name.

    …..Cafe du Monde is awesome. Great coffee (inexpensive), and people: no beignets/powdered sugar at Starbucks…
    Mmmmmmmm!

  35. capstinence says:

    @RoyInHell: Please. That pretentious comment is the broadest generalization in this thread. You act like no other coffee place in the world has people typing on laptops (pretentiously? I’m not sure how one types pretentiously. Perhaps with their nose in the air?). Also, the fact that Starbucks internet isn’t free (which is stupid, in my opinion.. but that’s the way it is) means that there are actually FEWER people typing away on their laptops.

    If your knowledge about the clientele is any indicator of your general knowledge of coffee (how to prepare a real macchiato, per se?), then I suppose no one should take you very seriously at all.

  36. RoyInHell says:

    Re: the comments about my original post…

    I (as well as the zoning commission) do not consider Canal St. as part of the FQ… there are many national chains located on Canal, and I think they should stay there. If one chain moves in, others will follow, and the FQ will have all the charm and character of modern Times Square.

    I have several issues about Starbucks – they will move into a neighborhood and begin taking over every other independently owned coffee shop. I now live in NYC and you can’t walk 2 blocks without passing 3 Starbucks. Just walk into any one of them and you will find fully half of the tables occupied with people who have been typing away for hours.

    No, I cannot prepare a macchiato – I don’t even know what that means. I drink COFFEE, not a girl-drink version. And I will order a small, medium, or large. Apparently, Starbucks is from some imaginary European country with its own language.

    You don’t need to take me seriously – but this is what I see every day.