On the Nextdoor App in many Evans subdivisions and on social media, there are passionate discussions and grassroots efforts going on about “buying local” as coffee giant Starbucks legally purchased an outparcel 50 yards from the existing Rooted Coffeehouse—which is locally owned.
Can they both survive?
We sent Josh Heath on a random morning to
grab a cup of Joe or two and some food at both while seeing how business is going for both. This is just a one morning sample, but some good patterns developed.
On Monday, July 26, 2021, the ABD compared Rooted Coffeehouse with the new Starbucks in the Riverwood Town Center in Evans. The new 2,500 square foot Starbucks opened its doors on Friday, July 16. Specifically, we wanted to gauge the competition between the local coffee shop, which opened in February 2018, and America’s largest coffee chain.
When I arrived at Rooted a few minutes before 8 a.m., I was surprised there were no cars in the drive-thru, and just a few people were seated on the patio. At about 8:30, three cars were lined up in the drive through as business began to pick up. One customer, Gina, who asked us not to use her last name, states she prefers Rooted to Starbucks. “The service is better, and the coffee is better,” she says. When I went inside, there was only one couple in line. Needing a jolt of caffeine to prepare myself for a busy Monday morning, I ordered an iced espresso cortado – a delicious blend of strong coffee and milk that costs $3 – as well as a breakfast sandwich containing bacon, eggs, cheese, and spinach for $7. The sandwich normally comes with tomatoes, but anyone who knows me well can tell you I always order my food without them. The service was fast and friendly, and both the sandwich and coffee were tasty.
At the same time, my colleague visited Starbucks to see how busy their drive-thru was. While he was there, he met Hailey Deas, 19, of Appling, who bought an Everything Bagel with cream cheese for $2.80. After that, Deas went through the drive-thru at Rooted to pick up an iced Americano with vanilla bean syrup. She waited 10 minutes for her coffee as the 4th car in line at Rooted and only five minutes for her bagel as the 4th person in line at Starbucks. “I didn’t mind the wait; the service and coffee is great at Rooted,” says Deas. “I went to Starbucks because they have the toasted bagels and cream cheese, and Rooted does not.”
This reporter also visited Starbucks and ordered a tall Vanilla Bean Frappuccino for $3.95 and an Egg & Cheese Protein Box, which contains hard-boiled eggs, apples, grapes, flatbread, cheese, and peanut butter. It made for a nice, healthy lunch for only $5.95. Again, the service and food quality were excellent. Darius Nesbitt, who was only one of three people dining inside Starbucks at about 9:30 a.m., explains he likes Rooted and Starbucks for different reasons. “Starbucks is a great place to get coffee, but Rooted has more food options,” Nesbitt states.
On this day, Rooted and Starbucks were similar in service, price, and quality. As the day went on, traffic at both businesses was steady, but not overly busy. While some are die-hard Starbucks fans, others prefer to support local businesses. Some Rooted customers have complained about the drive-thru wait time, but their food items are made to order, which tends to take a little longer. At Starbucks, most food items are heated, not prepared from scratch. Founded in 1971, the coffee giant has also had 50 years to streamline its processes.
In January, Neil Gordon, publisher of the ABD spoke to Jordan Collier, director of commercial development for Meybohm. “We feel confident that Evans, and more specifically the Riverwood Market is strong,” says Collier. “The increase in population in the submarket indicates continued development, demonstrating a consumer base that can support a variety of local and national retailers.”