Does Joliet Need More Starbucks Coffee Shops? Ferak Column

JOLIET, IL — Exactly two weeks after I broke the news that a Starbucks Coffee shop would be replacing the empty Bakers Square restaurant on West Jefferson Street, the Joliet City Council is now considering another proposal from Starbucks.

According to Tuesday night’s agenda, Joseph Antoniolli of Morris is project manager for the latest Starbucks proposal on Joliet’s west side. This one will be built on vacant land near the Joliet Junior College campus, along Houbolt Road and McDonough Street.

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The proposed site calls for construction of a 2,450-square-foot Starbucks with an outdoor patio. The drive-thru lane would support up to 17 vehicles.

Another Joliet Starbucks? I repeat, another Joliet Starbucks?

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What’s really going on here? Are new Joliet Mayor Terry D’Arcy and new city manager Beth Beatty actually trying to make the city of Joliet the Starbucks Coffee capital of the United States?

I have to say, it’s possible.

And it’s also possible Joliet is in the super-secret running for a Starbucks Coffee Museum, a coffee drinker’s paradise showcasing all the different roasted coffee beans — and green aprons and coffee bean grinders — that Starbucks has introduced since the company formed in 1971.

But where would this Starbucks Coffee Museum go, you ask?

Well, how about the site of the old Will County Courthouse being knocked down as we speak.

Think about the endless possibilities for Joliet’s world-wide prestige.

International tourists on their Historic Route 66 tours from Japan, Germany, France and Italy would spend more time — and money — here in Joliet, specifically downtown Joliet, to visit a Starbucks museum that showcased the amazing history of the world-loved coffee brand that opened more than 38,000 locations in 84 different countries by the end of 2023.

With his Bo Jackson “Bo Dome” sports arena redevelopment plans for the shuttered U.S. Steel property off to a slow start, perhaps D’Arcy should be courting the coffee bean counters at Starbucks for his blockbuster project in his first term as mayor.

At the time of this column, I have to concede, there are no Starbucks Coffee museums being proposed in Joliet. And Starbucks has submitted zero architectural renderings or conceptual designs for a new Starbucks corporate headquarters, either.

But, if Joliet keeps approving two new Starbucks every month for the rest of 2024, you have to wonder if D’Arcy aims to convince Starbucks that Joliet — not Seattle — is where the company needs to be.

As for Joliet’s citizens, you won’t find any of them at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to complain about another Starbucks proposed for Joliet’s west side.

Why not, you ask.

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Most will skip Tuesday’s meeting because they’ll be sitting in their cars, stacked in a long line, at one of the other 2,000 Joliet Starbucks locations, waiting for their caffeine fix.

Joliet: the City of Champions? That motto has outlived its usefulness. Modern Joliet needs a welcoming sign — and a symbol — that generates a wow factor and a caffeine buzz.

D’Arcy wanted to spruce up Joliet’s tired and depressing-looking entrance gateways in last year’s election run up. The addition of a Starbucks tourist museum, the relocation of Starbucks company headquarters to Joliet from Seattle, or both, would be a game changer for D’Arcy.

At long last, D’Arcy could unveil 20-foot-tall Starbucks Coffee cups at Joliet’s many entrances that proclaim: “Welcome to Joliet: Starbucks Coffee Capital of the World.”

If you disagree with my logic, fine, then ask yourself this: why in the world is Joliet’s City Council and Mayor D’Arcy so wired in 2024 to open even more Starbucks Coffee shops in Joliet?

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