That title is a bit misleading…there are several places you can get a coffee in downtown Brookside. But the recent Kansas City Star report about Starbucks possibly moving into the Goodcents location at 6304 Brookside Plaza has many residents concerned: will our beloved Brookside become as bland and generic as parts of Overland Park (or Lees Summit, or Olathe, etc)? I’m optimistic this is not going to happen.
Brookside is the first location owner (and longtime Brookside resident) Danny O’Neill chose for his coffee spot. It was an immediate success. (Remember when there was an ugly gas station on that corner? I do, as I was carjacked there!). Like so many locally owned Brookside establishments (think Stuff or 5 B Candle or Worlds Window), The Roasterie Cafe is similar to a village town pub: how often do you walk in and see someone you know? It’s a gathering place not only for liquid refreshment but so much more: students doing homework; parents taking a break with kids; getting a project done on the laptop. Yes, all that can happen at an anonymous Starbucks but it’s special at Roasterie. It’s a different feeling because it’s local–and I think that unique, Brookside vibe is what neighbors want to protect. The Roasterie Cafe is a great neighbor, supporting area community causes and being so active in the our city. Will Starbucks do the same? Perhaps. But it’s a big step above a national when the locally based business owner is so involved, visible and vested in his hometown. Mr. O’Neill doesn’t have to answer to Wall Street investors. He can easily partner with other local businesses, use and promote other home grown products, create special blends for area restaurants, donate gift cards to fundraisers. You could probably even reach him directly on the phone! And honestly, no Starbucks anywhere will ever have the same warm sweater feeling as an organically home grown coffee shop.
I remember years ago, when Starbucks opened at the corner of Westport Road and Broadway, just a few steps from the Broadway Cafe. There was an outcry at that time as well to keep national chains out of Westport. After several years, Starbucks shut down and the Broadway Cafe is still going strong. We have several chain stores in Brookside that neighbors patronize; the mix seems to work. It is extremely expensive to open and operate your own small business, especially in a highly desirable location with pricey rent like Brookside. Big national chains have millions of dollars to play with. That’s why it is imperative that we support locally owned shops, restaurants and services–here in our neighborhood and when travelling. Brookside thrives as a destination shopping and dining area because of the unique, one of a kind places you find here….and because area residents recognize their importance and support them financially.
Like many Brooksiders, I enjoy a Starbucks beverage every so often. But I’ll always stop at Roasterie over a national chain. Nothing beats the creamy foam created on their lattes! Thank you for supporting locally owned Brookside/Waldo businesses!