End of an Era

Posted by psa on Oct 16th, 2007
Oct 16

They are closing my Starbucks, the end of an era.  It was the first in my end of the valley, west of the 405, the suburban wasteland north of Los Angeles proper.  We had matured together, Starbucks and I, communing on a somewhat daily basis, okay, at times a bi-daily basis for sixteen years.  A life-saver, well, possibly more a sanity saver as I was an expatriate of Berkeley and the Bay Area where picking up a morning cappuccino on the way to work was a well established tradition.  On being transplanted to the southland it was an on-going problem.  Where to get coffee?  Sure, you could make it at home, but that wasn’t the same.  It didn’t have all of the trappings of the established ritual, walking in, seeing old friends, joking with the pre- barista baristas.  Granted, down here in the southland, one drives everywhere rather than walking, but that part of the ritual was amenable to moderation.  There just weren’t any coffee places here in the southland pre-Starbucks.  Oh, yes, there were specialty coffee shops, the loss of whose uniqueness everyone bemoans, but no place where they took coffee seriously, or rather where they took you seriously and understood that you needed to get in and out and you really wanted, needed you coffee to be the same day in and day out.

So, yes, there are other Starbucks now.  They are spaced out along Ventura Boulevard at roughly half mile intervals, but I will miss this one.  It had a unique atmosphere, quirky enough to be interesting, a reasonably odd assemblage of patrons to make the people watching satisfying, yet nothing so outrageous as to feel unsafe.  Even the homeless guy who hung out in front trying to intimidate (he scowled, but then again why shouldn’t he) patrons into donating, seemed the right fit.  This Starbucks and I watched each other mature.  We saw each other through the rebuilding years after the earthquake and we watched each others families evolve.  My children into teenagers and then adults while I watched generations of baristas find their footing and move on to other careers, hopefully better or at least more interesting careers.

Yes, I hear you will be back in a couple of years when the building has been rebuilt into a modern commercial / retail / residential complex, the wave of the future.  The corporate Starbucks will return, this time in the preferred corner location, but the unique blend of character that emerged here will have dissipated, changed, moved on.  Everything changes, and I will miss you. 

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