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‘My fave hangout is gone’: customers feel ‘stung’ by Burnaby Starbucks closure

Some are not happy as the coffee giant shrinks its footprint
Customers of a Burnaby, BC Starbucks voice concerns after losing a location some saw as a "second home." (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo, File)

People used to joke about how there were too many Starbucks locations in every city.

“If one is too busy, there’ll be another one down the block.”

There even used to be a Starbucks on Robson Street in Vancouver that was right across the street from another Starbucks.

Well, not everyone is joking now.

The coffee giant has been steadily closing some of its locations across Burnaby, the Lower Mainland and Canada as it shrinks its footprint and puts more focus on certain high-traffic locations.

And more and more Burnaby Starbucks lovers are speaking out about how displeased they are.

“I know it sounds silly, but I feel stung,” said Tara, who is frustrated by the closure of the Starbucks on Lougheed Highway just west of Willingdon in the Brentwood neighbourhood. “My fave hangout is gone. My friends who all live in the same building near this location find it harder and harder to get together for our quick chats.

A large new Starbucks has opened up at the Amazing Brentwood on the second level, but Tara says it takes too long when her coffee group wants to have a quick meet-up in the morning before work.

“I know it doesn’t sound like much, but we only have so much time in the day when you have to commute to work,” Tara said.

There is at least one other coffee place in the neighbourhood, but Tara says that Starbucks lovers are dedicated to the blends the coffee behemoth serves.

“Other places just aren’t the same,” she said.

I don’t personally get it because I don’t drink coffee. But Tara isn’t the only person to write me about this and educate me about people’s coffee habits.

The Starbucks located at the Indigo store in Metropolis at Metrotown also closed down, leaving some to lament its loss.

“It was my second home,” said Jen, who spoke to the NOW at the Indigo store. “I spent a lot of time here studying for school and then doing work for my job. It’s nice to get out of the house and this was my favourite Starbucks because it was so much quieter than other locations because it was inside a book store. It felt so silent. I could also easily shop at the mall. It’s too bad.”

This was the second Starbucks closed at Metropolis.

The Starbucks on the second floor of Metropolis at Metrotown closed forever Feb. 1, due to impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starbucks has said its plan to close up to 300 coffee shops across Canada was completed by the end of March.

The Seattle-based coffeehouse and roastery chain announced the acceleration of its five-year "transformation strategy" last year as it responded to changes in consumer habits during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the company says some of its locations closed last fall and it expects to complete its planned store closures by the end of its second quarter.

The restructuring includes adding new drive-thru locations, the expansion of delivery and a pilot of curbside pick-up only coffee shops.

The company began experimenting with pick-up only locations before the pandemic. The first Canadian Starbucks store using the new format, which measured 93 square metres or 1,000 square feet, launched in Toronto's financial district last January.

Starbucks says the changes will help the coffee chain "best meet our customers where they are now."

The company had previously said it would close up to 200 of its locations in Canada over two years.

  • With files from The Canadian Press