Biz Beat

Starbucks out, another major retailer in at Barnes & Noble center in north Modesto

One major retailer has left while another is coming to the north Modesto shopping center that has been the longtime home of Barnes & Noble.

The Starbucks in the Promenade Shopping Center at the corner of McHenry and Standiford avenues has closed. The coffee shop has been connected to the Barnes & Noble bookstore that anchors the complex since they both opened in 1996.

But another large space, the 39,000-square-foot former Sports Authority site, is being renovated for a new AutoZone store. Sports Authority went out of business in 2016 after the company declared bankruptcy. The sporting goods seller has been a popular destination for student athletes, outdoor enthusiasts and fitness fans in the center before its closure.

The Promenade Shopping Center is also home to popular shops like Cold Stone Creamery, Ross and Sketchers stores.

AutoZone, an auto parts and accessories retailer, has about half a dozen stores in Modesto already. A sign posted on the new McHenry Avenue site encouraged jobseekers to apply to work in the store. Jobs for sales associates, delivery drivers and supervisors are already listed for the McHenry Avenue store. For more information on employment, visit www.autozone.com/careers.

Work is under way at the site, with construction crews busy remodeling inside the large space. A building permit filed with the city describes the new site as a “hub store.” No word yet on when it is slated to open.

Nearby, the former Starbucks, which had been open for 23 years, sat dark. The cafe closed on Father’s Day earlier this month. Paper covered the windows, and inside the Barnes & Noble, the connecting opening between the bookstore and coffee shop was closed off. Before, customers could grab a latte and browse books.

The tables that used to be set out for people to read and sip inside the Barnes & Noble are now gone, replaced by more shelving. A metal security gate now separates the two spaces. Representatives with Lee & Associates, the commercial real estate firm leasing the center, said they are in “active negotiations” for a new food and beverage seller to move into the approximately 1,000-square-foot space.

A spokeswoman for Starbucks replied with a statement about the closure that said the company “continually evaluates our business to ensure a healthy store portfolio.” The Promenade site was closed after “careful consideration” and all the employees transferred to nearby stores. All partners at this store transferred to nearby locations.

“The Modesto community is special to us, our customers and our partners, and we remain committed to continuing to serve them, offering a warm and welcoming environment for people to connect,” the statement read.

While the company’s statement makes no mention of this, if I had to guess, I’d say the strip-mall location not having a drive-thru was among the reasons for the closure. The coffee seller has 16 locations in Modesto, and the vast majority have drive-thrus. In fact, only two of the city’s stores that are not inside a supermarket or Target do not have drive-thru lanes. They are the store in Vintage Faire Mall and the location near Costco on Pelandale Road.

A few other Starbucks in the city without drive-thrus, including the cafe downtown at 10th and K streets and on Oakdale Road in Century Center, have also been shuttered over the years.

But, fear not, there is another Starbucks — two in fact — right across Standiford Avenue inside and outside of the Target on the opposite corner. Which I guess begs the question, if a Starbucks closes but there’s still another one across the street, does it make a sound?

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Marijke Rowland writes about new business, restaurant and retail developments. She has been with The Modesto Bee since 1997 covering a variety of topics including arts and entertainment. Her Business Beat column runs multiple times a week. And it’s pronounced Mar-eye-ke.
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