Newest Evanston Starbucks debuts at Dempster-Dodge

On Thursday afternoon, at the northwest corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, one young person ran through  windy rainy day, shouting “I’m so excited,” dashing into Evanston’s newest Starbucks.

The restaurant with a drive-through opened earlier in the day.

Evanston Township High School students Jaalen Banner and Amarii Johnson walked at a more measured pace but they were still looking forward to checking out the new store, at 1901 Dempster St.

High school students, who previously congregated at the spacious Starbuck’s store in Evanston’s downtown, now have their own. Jaalen explained the significance.

“I feel like if I need to refresh during the day and if class is getting down to the bone, I can come here and get some coffee and I’m good, man.”

Translation: He’s excited!

Evanston City officials have reason to feel bubbly, too, with another important piece falling into place in the suddenly rejuvenated west Dempster Street district.

On Sept. 3, city representatives gathered at the Heartwood Center for Body, Mind, Spirit, to celebrate the center’s purchase of a parking lot, which had long been an eyesore in the neighborhood.

Officials from Valli Foods, meanwhile, are expected to appear before the city council Sept. 8, seeking assistance in their conversion of a shuttered Dominick’s store into a supermarket at the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center.

Starbucks converted an existing store, a former KFC restaurant, with a spacious, clean look, providing plenty of tables and seating for neighborhood people, high school students and others.

The store is the second Starbucks in Evanston with a drive-through window. It was constructed to be environmentally certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It has the chain’s special reserve coffee, Clover brand, to help students like Jaalen and Amarii scale new academic heights. Cars can enter at several points to enter the line for the drive-through, prompting staff to require a “Watch for Pedestrians” sign.

The new store has seating for 50 in the café and for another 20 outside.

“We’re excited to be a part of this community,” said Jennifer Austin, regional manager, at the opening. “We’re excited to be close to the high school.”

Most of the employee team, led by Manager Will Schultze, who formerly ran the Starbuck’s at Main Street and McCormick Boulevard, live in the area, she said. Many had been working “at other stores and were excited were opening something closer to home,” she said.

Evanston resident Donna Maykut, a nanny, to some Wilmette youngsters, brought them by the new store. With her were Ward andMason Rapp and Talia Lanam seated around a table munching pastries.

“We drove by and I was telling them this is a brand new store, it was just opening,” said Maykut. “And I promised them that if they were well behaved at the library, with good library manners, that we could come and get our lunch with special Starbuck’s treats.”

“And so here we are,” she said brightly.

How does the new store rate? Maykut was asked.

“It’s very spacious and of course everyone is friendly, but they are everywhere,” she said. “I haven’t seen such large tables before. To have several comfortable chairs is a nice bonus too.”

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