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."