The Starbucks located at 40695 Winchester Road is set to close its doors April 15 in order to move to a new location, but many longtime customers are upset about the move because they say the new location will be difficult to get to and will not have the same ambience as the current location.
For more than a decade and a half, the Winchester Road franchise has been drawing in a steady group of customers who have taken advantage of its quiet atmosphere to prepare for work, study for exams, and hold bible studies.
Many of the customers consider themselves regulars and know each other by name; some have even gone as far as spending time together at social functions outside of the walls of the franchise.
But now, as the Starbucks seeks to add a drive through by moving to the former Carl’s Jr. building near the entrance of the Northbound 1-15, customers feel as though it’s the end of an era.
“It’s just a real great location,” said Customer Deborah Hughes. “We’ll be sad to see it close.”
Hughes has been one of the franchise store’s oldest customers. She said she’s been grabbing her morning cup of joe there for at least the past 15 years.
She remembers what it was like to be a Temecula resident in the late ’90s before the housing boom took off and before the city was a place to visit.
Back in those days, she said, people were more laid back and could often be seen wearing jeans and t-shirts. Nobody seemed to be in a hurry.
But then the city became more of a desirable place to live; people came in, houses sprung up, and demographics changed.
Hughes’ life has changed, too. In these past few years she’s been finishing up her bachelor’s degree at the University of Phoenix and has plans to attain a master’s degree. She’s also a mother of three now.
But amid all the change happening throughout the city, the Starbucks on Winchester Road has remained a constant both for Hughes and for other self-proclaimed regulars. Now that it’s going to move to a new location, many of those individuals are trying to determine whether it’s time to find a new go-to spot.
For Deborah, the problem is getting in and out of the location.
“It looks to me like there’s very little parking (in that lot),” she said. “There might be 20 to 25 parking spots total, so that’s a concern.”
“I would not be able to make a left,” she said. “I would have to take the access road and continue out onto Ynez and go through the next light or two to make a U-turn and head back down onto Winchester.”
Some customers meanwhile have been trying hard to keep the Starbucks from moving in the first place. Bill Kirkpatrick is one of those individuals.
Kirkpatrick scheduled a rally Saturday, March 1, where he encouraged customers to grab a cup of coffee and bring some friends along.
His said his hope was that high sale levels might indicate to higher-ups at the corporate level of Starbucks that the location was worth keeping. Unfortunately, the weekend’s rain kept the location from being much busier than it usually is, as many people opted to stay inside the comfort of their warm homes.
Still, Kirkpatrick said he hasn’t given up on the idea of finding an alternative solution to moving the Starbucks to where the old Carl’s Jr. used to stand. He said he’s not opposed to seeing the Starbucks move if it really must, but doesn’t like the idea of having it in that location.
One of the primary reasons the new location doesn’t work for many customers, he said, is its proximity to a homeless encampment.
“With the homeless hanging around it’s just not conducive to an environment for single women or families going in there,” said Kirkpatrick. “Or even to have my daughter go in there to study for a college exam just because of the alcohol and drugs and some of the things that go on over there.”
Starbucks management has declined to comment on the franchises’ intended move.
However, Kirkpatrick said he’s been in talks with higher-ups at Starbucks and has expressed the concerns that he and others have and they’ve suggested possible alternatives like opening up the Promenade Mall Starbucks an hour earlier to accommodate people’s schedules.
Nothing is set in stone yet though and Kirkpatrick, Hughes and others are still waiting to see what happens to their coffee house of choice. They said they’ll still be working hard to save the Starbucks from moving over the coming weeks.
“We’re just trying to start this small fire and turn it into a big fire so our voices can be heard,” Kirkpatrick said.