Changes brewing in downtown Elon
Downtown Elon has become a place where local businesses have grown and thrived off the local community. That’s why when Elon Dining Services announced that Starbucks would be replacing Acorn Coffee Shop, Phil Smith, owner of the Oak House, was concerned.
“When guests come into town they’ll look for the national brand and they won’t know what they’re walking past when they walk past here,” he said.
Smith said he was not consulted by Elon or Aramark about the new business arriving in the fall. He said he learned most of the information from students.
“I don’t know… that might have been a good idea to maybe chat with the other local businesses to see what is needed and what might compliment the downtown area,” Smith said.
Smith explained that the local businesses in Downtown Elon support one another and he says it’s important to keep the local businesses strong. Smith says a large corporation in the area wouldn’t be the best fit.
“I think we’ve got a really good synergy with the way the different downtown businesses support each other,” Smith said. “We’re kind of interdependent. We’re swapping ideas and we band together to do projects together.”
Still, Smith isn’t too concerned in the potential change of coffee sales. He said he believes he has many loyal customers.
“I think more and more people these days are placing value on keeping a local economy sustained and so I’m banking on that in the long term,” Smith said. “And I think too if we provide the best customer service, we provide the space, that will be what drives people in.”
Starbucks is scheduled to open in late September and will be on the meal exchange, accepting Phoenix Cash and Meal Dollars according to Pulkit Vigg, Resident Director of Aramark at Elon.
Vigg said that choosing to add a Starbucks to campus wasn’t a random decision.
“We did a student survey and Starbucks came to the top,” Vigg said. “Everything that we do morning to night it’s all about you guys. If you guys want a specific brand and you are backing me up and the survey said that. Why wouldn’t I go with something that the students are requesting?”
Vigg said Elon Dining Services’ main goal is to support the students and make sure all the dining locations are adequately serving the area.
“Again..the collective goal [of the university and Dining Services] is not to take away anything,” Vigg said. “It’s to enhance the look of the downtown and I think Starbucks does that.”
While Vigg may believe that a Starbucks in downtown Elon is a good idea, many people have a different opinion.
On Monday night a petition on Change.org began seeking support to ask the university to reconsider the location of the Starbucks. As of 11:45 p.m. Monday, more than 1600 people signed the petition.
The addition of Starbucks to the downtown area isn’t the only Elon dining change coming in the fall. Acorn Coffee Shop is set to move to downstairs McEwen, while Varsity will close for good according to Elon Dining.
Vigg said Upstairs McEwen will be accommodating their menu to have more food selections similar to what was available in Varsity.