Dempster St. Starbucks reopens after school following meeting of community, business leaders


Rosie Witt, Staff Writer

In early February, the Starbucks on Dempster and Dodge announce that it would be closing except for mobile orders and drive thru orders from 2-5 p.m. on Monday and 3-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday “due to safety and security reasons.” This action by the store led to a discussion of community members, brought together by Second Ward Alderperson Krissie Harris, to discuss reopening the space. The result was a reopening of the Starbucks after school.

Second Ward Alderman Krissie Harris held the meeting with Associate Principal Dr. Keith Robinson, Superintendent Dr. Marcus Campbell, Evanston police officers, managers and staff at Starbucks, as well as Evanston’s Youth & Young Adult division in order to find a resolution to reopen Starbucks during after-school hours. The meeting concentrated on how to prevent the perception of a lack of safety at Starbucks, as well as other businesses in the area such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway.

According to Robinson, Starbucks and the neighboring businesses were not aware that they were all going through the same difficult situation. 

“Alderman Harris wants to put together a community business counsel where they would come together as a collective to make some decisions to support one another, and also know that they’re not the only ones,” said Robinson.

The discussion of community members centered around what had been going on at the Starbucks after school hours.

“Some of the concerns that they had were that kids weren’t respecting the space,” Robinson said. “They were leaving trash everywhere and just being really loud. [They were also] disrupting the space using colorful language, vaping and just doing a lot of things [that impacted] the business.”

Beri Barton, a sophomore at ETHS who goes to Starbucks frequently, has also noticed some of these disruptions.

“Occasionally, I see people stealing chips or snacks from the shelves at Starbucks,” said Barton. 

Robinson also claimed that not only do these few students ruin the environment for Starbucks employees, but they are also a disruption to the students existing peacefully in Starbucks. 

“All kids aren’t behaving that way. You can’t punish or impact the space because of the behavior of just a few. There are legitimate students who go to study, wait between practices, or whatever it is, because it’s a safe place and they can go and drink a beverage or snack as they continue their day,” said Robinson.

While there were reasons for the store closure, it also meant one fewer place for students to go after the bell rings at the end of the day.

“I was annoyed and confused on why they would close it because of how many people go there after school,” said Barton. 

Because of the importance of the issue for students, Harris and the other members came together to find a solution, but the Starbucks has reopened with additional protections in place. An increased police presence, a reiteration of Starbucks’ employees ability to file police reports, and a commitment from ETHS administration to be a part of the community safety efforts are all shifts that come with the reopening of the Starbucks.

“Evanston,” Harris said in a letter to her Second Ward constituents, “let’s all pull together and work on corrective measures to ensure all residents can enjoy ALL that Evanston has to offer.”