Downtown coffee wars

With condos on the horizon and a sizeable workforce already in place, a coffee battle of sorts may soon brew in Riverside as both Starbucks Coffee and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf prepare to open outlets within the downtown core. Their arrival marks the first significant challenge to local outfits Back to the Grind, Coffee Depot, and Mission Inn Coffee Company.

In scouting for their first downtown outlets, the rival coffee chains have taken slightly different approaches with regards to site selection. Starbucks has chosen a commuter-friendly location at the corner of Third and Market streets while Coffee Bean is opting for an office-friendly spot at the base of the 11-story California Tower.

For Seattle-based Starbucks, which plans a September opening, locating on a major downtown street with easy accessibility was an important factor. The location, which includes a hybrid Sav-On/grocery market, is a stone’s throw from the 12-story Marriott Riverside and adjacent convention center as well as directly across the street from the proposed first phase of m Sole’ — a mixed-use residential development slated for the west side of Market Street between Third and First streets.

The company would have liked a drive-through as well, like many of its other new stores around the country, but it was limited by space and by parking and zoning rules, said Jim Delehoy, Inland Empire development manager for Starbucks.

… The location is “probably a little far” for workers to walk during a coffee break, he acknowledged, but ample parking and its position at the “funnel” into downtown make the store convenient for commuters.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – July 28, 2006

For Los Angeles-based Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which plans a November opening, the former McDonald’s location on the pedestrian mall in the heart of downtown was more to their liking. Across the mall is the busy Mission Galleria antiques as well as the site for what’s expected to be a new office building. Nearby are the upscale Mario’s Place restaurant and the newly-opened Japanese-French fusion eatery, Omakase. And diagonally across Mission Inn Avenue sits the magnificent Mission Inn.

“We liked the proximity to the Mission Inn hotel and daytime access to the work force within walking distance and … the pedestrian mall,” said Paul Goldman, vice president of real estate and construction for Coffee Bean.

Riverside Press-Enterprise – July 28, 2006

Two blocks down the mall from the CB&TL location is the 6-story Mission Square office building and 7-story Riverside City Hall. Just beyond City Hall lies the Riverside County Courthouse and downtown Justice Center.

With tens of thousands of daytime office workers (with more on the way), an ever-growing night/weekend mix, an expanding arts scene — including the UCR/Culver Center for the Arts and performance plans for the city-owned Fox Theater — plus 4 or 5 mixed-use residential projects proposed for the downtown core, both outlets should easily find their niche among the local brewers.


Sources: Riverside Press-Enterprise (PE-20060423, PE-20060728, PE-20070408),

2024 PAGE UPDATE: Added additional/updated images; added links to UCR/Culver Center of the Arts and Fox Performing Arts Center to Related content; removed outdated links to newspaper article and third-party websites in Related content.

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