Starbucks Coffee, 2114 Central Street.

Tim Lenahan will have to look somewhere else for his morning cup of coffee.

For the past 15 years, Lenahan, the now-retired soccer coach at Northwestern University, stopped by the Starbucks at 2114 Central St., for the beverage and for the friendship.

Lenahan would always sit on the brick wall in front, cup in hand, and golden retriever at his feet … first his dog named Nino, and since Nino passed away, another golden named Trey.

Tim Lenahan and his dog Trey, in front of Starbucks on Central Street.

Word of the coffee shop’s closing, Lenahan said, was “crushing,” not just for the loss of a convenient cup, but also the end of a location known for “social interaction.”

It’s pretty hard for anyone walking by not to stop and pet a friendly dog.

Starbucks has closed about 400 stores worldwide in the past couple of years according to the website Restaurant Clicks, but with more than 34,000 shops in all, 400 is not even a “grande” drop in the bucket, to use Starbucks-ese.

In Evanston, the store on Dempster near Chicago Avenue shut down in late 2020. While no specifics were given, the Dempster shop had a lot in common with the one at 2114 Central — located on an urban street, with metered parking, and no way to have a drive-thru.

Starbucks has opened a new store at Dempster and Dodge, with both a parking lot so you can run inside, or a drive thru so you can stick your arm out and grab the beverage. That model has become a corporate focus.

Starbucks also closed another non-drive-thru location in Evanston, on Main Street east of McCormick, back in 2015.

The emphasis on drive-thrus accelerated during the COVID pandemic, as sitting down inside was not allowed for some time.

Some Starbucks stores nationwide have also seen unionization efforts, several of them successful.

While union activists have claimed some closings were anti-union revenge, Starbucks has denied that.

The company has said several of the shutdowns were related to crime in the areas spilling over into the stores, although that was never mentioned for Dempster Street, and also would seem unlikely for Central Street as well.

There has been no known unionization drive at Evanston locations.

All is not necessarily lost for coffee lovers if a Starbucks goes away.

In the former Dempster location, a locally-owned coffee house, Evanston Pour, took its place … and even added alcohlic drinks to the menu.

And there are other places to get coffee on that block of Central Street — including Backlot Coffee and Tag’s Café. And the Starbucks further west, at 3330 Central St., remains open.

But Tim Lenahan will still miss his favorite Starbucks, and that includes the baristas.

After Lenahan’s dog Nino died last year, the Starbucks staff put a small plaque on the wall in front, to remember the golden retriever.

Plaque reads “In Memory Of Nino, The Happiest Good Boy.”

A coffee cup, perhaps, of kindness.

Evanston Now has a request in to Starbucks corporate for answers on why the Central Street store is closing. We will update this story should we hear from them.

Even with the 2114 Central location closing on Nov. 27, there will still be six Starbucks locations in Evanston, including one on the Norris Center at Northwestern University, and one in the Target store on Howard Street.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for recognizing what a great contribution Starbucks on Central has been to the community and for my two pups as well. Looks like I will make my coffee at home and Trey and I will walk to our bench for now.

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