Downtown Oak Park Starbucks closing

Twenty years old, location was second oldest in Chicago


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By Marty Stempniak

Staff Reporter

After 20 years of brewing coffee a few doors down from the Lake Theatre, the Starbucks location at 1018 Lake St. is closing this summer.

Starbucks' lease is set to expire at the end of July. So with that in mind, property owner Willis Johnson said his company started calling the chain late last year, trying to see if they were interested in staying longer. But Starbucks never responded, according to the Lake Theater owner, and they put a sign in the window offering the store for rent last week.

Johnson said Starbucks has been a great tenant over the past 20 years, and he had no reason to believe that they'd want out. He would have still listened if they called him wanting to stay.

"Absolutely," he said. "I have no reason to want them gone. They've been good tenants over all the years."

But after a Wednesday Journal story appeared online last week, Johnson later said he finally heard back from the Seattle-based chain, as they informed him by phone that they would not be renewing the lease. Calls to Starbucks' media relations line were not returned. However, an unnamed company representative declined to answer questions through email.

"We look forward to continuing to serve our customers at any of our Oak Park locations," the email said, referring to other coffee posts farther east and west along Lake Street.

Back in 1991, the Downtown Oak Park location was the second Starbucks in the Chicago area to open, according to Johnson. He plans to hold onto the original lease as a keepsake, since it was signed by Howard Schultz, the current president and CEO of the company.

Johnson was confident that he could fill the space quickly, since it's so close to the movie theater.

"Leasing downtown seems to be stronger right now, and that's a smaller space," he said. "With the traffic that the theater creates, I don't anticipate having any problems leasing it."

1018 Lake St. Listing

Reader Comments

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Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 10:06 AM

If you want the best coffee in the area walk a little bit south. Prairie Bakery is much better.

Ralph from Forest Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 8:43 AM

I hope they put a dive bar there.

Revoluci?acInnes from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 28th, 2011 6:40 AM

Their lease is up, they have no plans to renew. Starbucks has added almost 3 dozen seats in the River Forest location. Along with the SBUX located further west on Lake street there is little need for the tiny little store.


Posted: March 27th, 2011 4:00 PM

If Starbucks was interested in more space they would have chimed in when Benetton left. I'm sure they could have doubled their space.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 1:42 PM

What is the retail occupancy for business located outside of Downtown OP? Might as well understand the entire picture.

Local Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 1:31 PM

Rumor has it that a Karate studio is replacing the Starbucks. I am a big fan of Karate studies. I have several Bruce Lee movies and Chuck Norris artifcacts. Has anyone ever thought of combining a Karate studio WITH a Starbucks. Just imagine...

OP Resident  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 12:55 PM

I hope Willis Johnson will consider converting the space into a party room for the Lake Theater. A number of Classic Cinemas locations have areas designed for hosting birthday parties and special events.

Another Business Loss!! from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 27th, 2011 12:46 PM

Another example of the abysmal failure to retain business in Oak Park. Fortunately, for our clever neighbors to the West...our loss is again their gain as we can visit the Starbucks in Forest Park and River Forest. This Starbucks, as small as it is, was once the most profitable Starbucks in the Chicago area one manager once told me. What is the excuse for Downtown Oak Park and our economic development people at the Village for this loss? Too many excuses, not effective and keeping business here.

Local Resident from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 4:05 PM

The current occupancy rate for Downtown Oak Park is 95%. In this economic climate that's excellent news. from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2011 3:08 PM

The people in Oak Park and on the village board better drink some coffee and wake up. Downtown Oak Park is a bust. I don't care how much money you throw at it.

Oh Well  

Posted: March 24th, 2011 11:09 PM

That Starbucks is really small and can't sell all the "goodies" that other Starbucks sell. I asked for a sandwich there once and the answer was "we don't have the counter space to make one." That's why they're closing.


Posted: March 24th, 2011 4:00 PM

Was there a substantial rent increase? Was the rent too high to begin with for mostly foot traffic?

Julie Klein from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 8:22 PM

@Tom, your comment made me smile. I don't know you, but it's nice to read an entertaining comment in the midst of all the referendum hoo ha!

Momcat from Oakpark  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 7:31 PM

Aren't are enough empty stores in Downtown Oak Park? But then, what's one less Starbucks? It's not you have to walk a mile to get to another one!

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 4:34 PM

Thanks Marty, hopefully they figure something out soon. I really enjoyed your recent article about the butcher shop. Thanks again!

Violet Aura  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 12:08 PM

Oh the humanity! If it does indeed close, there will only be four Charf*ck's in walking distance!

Paddy Boy from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 12:05 PM

I'm sorry they are closing this Starbucks. It was a good store / good location. However, I won't miss the scary bikers in their to tight bike pants who lingered way to long out front in the warm weather. This past w/e I saw a similar crowd at the RF Starbucks. One guy wore tight pants with butt pads! Come'on guys the look is not working at all.

Marty Stempniak from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 11:47 AM

Scott, Those properties when into foreclosure a couple of years ago. Last I checked, they're owned by some company in Delaware. Here's something I wrote a ways back:,_Lake_St._sites_land_with_Delaware_firm

Scott from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 11:30 AM

I would be sad if that starbucks closed. It's a great location and the people are really nice. Does anyone know the status of the building that used to be mancinis and the one to west of it? They have been empty for a while and I'm kind of surprised that the village hasn't addressed them yet.

Braamrock from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 10:32 AM

I am VERY amused by people that call Starbucks coffee,"Crap" You can say what you want about it being a corporate franchise...but Hating their coffee just for THAT reason is insane. Just be honest, don't blame the coffee for your hatred of the place. Starbucks Coffee Rocks.


Posted: March 23rd, 2011 9:03 AM

Oh no you Starbuck's people will have to walk 2 blocks to the one on Harlem. Dear me. That area is over saturated with coffee sellers, some that serve better coffee than Starbuck's. I am glad that they are leaving, more business for the localy owned coffee sellers!

Grace from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 8:47 AM

Who is the regional manager? Has he lost it?

Joyce Porter from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2011 6:15 AM

Even though it's only a maybe, the article is appreciated because people will walk be and see the sign and wonder what is going on.

Julie Nilson Chyna from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 11:52 PM

As much as I love me a cup o' Starbucks, and as much as I'd hate to see another empty storefront in OP, I'm surprised that shop lasted as long as it did, with two other Starbucks and a Caribou so close by that are all larger and have better parking.

Tom Scharre  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:13 PM

I am rooting for a "locavore" mom & pop business, ideally sourced by the plentiful unicorns in our ecosystem, paying all their employees "a living wage" and willing to let me drink Java on extended credit. Because that is what good neighbors do for good neighbors.


Posted: March 22nd, 2011 10:00 PM

I hope that Starbucks goes! The coffee that is passed off as corporate crap is in insult to the better sensibilities of Oak Park. Wake up people, we need more locally sourced, mom & pop outfits not corp titans.

Coffee Lover from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 9:13 PM


Coffee Lover Hater  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 7:30 PM

Try reading for content next time. The reporter *is* reporting on what *is*, and what *is*, is that Starbucks is AWOL and the landlord is advertising the space for rent.

Coffee Lover from Oak Park  

Posted: March 22nd, 2011 6:16 PM

The operative word is "might". And monkeys might fly out of my butt. How about some reporting of what actually "is"?

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