After 20 years of service in Santa Monica’s Ocean Park neighborhood, one of the oldest Starbucks in Southern California closed its doors for the final time Monday evening — but not before its loyal customers stopped by to bid a final farewell.
One wouldn’t typically think of a Starbucks as a community fixture, but local residents have gathered at the intersection of Main and Hill since 1991. And throughout the decades, baristas have come to think of their customers like family.
When the local coffee shop opened, Starbucks was far from the household name it is today. In fact, the longtime patrons, who are usually sitting out front, will eagerly boast about the store being the first one to open in Southern California or the time it sold the company’s first frappuccino.
Store employees recall helping seniors who couldn’t always remember their orders and going to check on them at home when they hadn’t made it into the store like usual — and it’s anecdotes like these that spurred dozens of residents to stop by Monday with gifts in-hand to bid farewell to the store employees who will soon be moving on to other stores in the area.
Sandra Robbins first started frequenting Main and Hill when the coffee shop close to her house closed. “I thought I’d never make it all the way to this one because it’s a couple blocks away, but it became my go-to store every day while I walk my daughter’s and grandkids’ dog.”
Robbins said she has continued to come over the years because the staff is wonderful.
“I thought they were so friendly and so giving and they were terrific people. Why are they closing?” she said, which is a sentiment shared by many of the store’s visitors.
Company officials did not respond to an inquiry on why the store is closing, but locals like Robbins said she will soon begin heading to a new location, perhaps the one near City Hall or the ones on Lincoln Boulevard.