The running joke in Washington state is that there’s “a Starbucks on every corner.”
Two buildings bearing Starbucks signs in South Hill makes it look like that’s now “two Starbucks on every corner.”
But the Starbucks at 4423 S. Meridian is actually relocating about 100 feet into a new space in the Meridian Place Shopping Center.
Opening date is Friday, Sept. 7.
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The big reason is for a drive-thru — a feature that the current location doesn’t have.
“South Hill is really a commuter community,” Starbucks store manager Steven Perez said. “At 6 in the morning, if you watch traffic, everyone’s going (north). So you notice all the Starbucks stores are on this side of Meridian, to capture traffic going (north).”
The current location, which is part of a strip mall owned by Oregon-based G Group LLC, has been in operation for 25 years and was the first store in Puyallup. Five years after opening, it doubled in size, acquiring the space of a closing bagel shop next door.
Now, the shop is about 2,500 square feet with a fireplace, room for seating and a conference room. But staff said it’s missing a key feature.
Starbucks receives about 65 percent of its business through drive-thrus.
“We know right off the bat having a drive-thru — it’s what people want,” Perez said.
The new location, now referred to as 4423-4621 S. Meridian Place, is the former site of Union Bank, which announced closure in 2014. It sat vacant for years until Apex Engineering, on behalf of G Group LLC, proposed to demolish the site and construct a 7,000-square-foot building in the same location in 2017.
Starbucks had a plan for a drive-thru since the beginning. Two other tenants will be in the same building, including AT&T. The other space is currently for lease.
Adding a drive-thru means doubling staff to 24 baristas. The shop will be slightly smaller, at 2,300 square feet.
The relocation is an opportunity for staff to make sure customers get their coffee faster.
To ensure speedy drive-thru times, the new location’s kitchen is being built with ovens closer to the drive-thru window for easy access. An island separates front counter work from drive-thru work.
“It’s all sectioned out to be more efficient,” Perez said.
The new location also will have Nitro Cold Brew, which is slow-steeped cold-brewed coffee infused with nitrogen. It’s similar to black coffee, but sweeter and with higher caffeine content. The new shop will be one of three locations in district that has it.
Perez, who won an honorary coin from Starbucks officials last year for his work with the Puyallup School District, said he wants to continue that relationship with the community.
“Some people are kinda bummed that we’re losing the cafe,” Perez said. “But we really want to make sure that we satisfy all of our customers, not just a single group.”
South Hill is part of the Starbucks Mountain View District, which includes Puyallup, Sumner, Bonney Lake, Frederickson, Lakeland Hills, Enumclaw and Graham. There are 13 locations in all.
There are two other Starbucks stores along Meridian in South Hill, not including ones inside Safeway and Target. One is across from the South Hill Mall at 3705 S. Meridian and has the fastest drive-thru time in the Pacific Northwest. The other is the district’s newest store at the corner of 152nd Street and Meridian East.
The old location
The city has not received any notice of a new tenant in the soon-to-be-vacated Starbucks space, said Puyallup Development Services Director Tom Utterback, but the Meridian Place Shopping Center will be seeing some changes.
“City staff has spoken recently with the owners of that retail center about their intention to do façade/design upgrades throughout that complex, although permitting for that work has not yet occurred,” Utterback said in an email.
As of Aug. 30, property owner G Group LLC did not respond for a request for comment about the plans.
New Starbucks in South Hill
Where: 4423-4621 S Meridian Place
Opening date: Sept. 7, 2018
Hours: 4:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday