Could Morristown's Coffee Shops Coexist With Starbucks Back in the Mix?
40 Park Official: Java giant has expressed interest in moving in.
Morristown has a coffee culture on several corners.
Along the Green, many grab their Joe to go at Greenberry's. Down South Street, working stiffs and those who get to enjoy a "mobile office" make SmartWorld Coffee a part of their daily routines. Others still prefer to grab a slice of pizza or a sweet with their java at Zebu Forno or Swiss Chalet Bakery, respectively.
Besides Greenberry's–whose small, Virginia-based chain has only two New Jersey locations, in Morristown and Wayne–much of Morristown's coffee culture vibe is decidedly local.
So, what if Starbucks decided to return?
Previously located in the Epstein's building that has since made way for the 40 Park luxury development, the coffee giant may make a return to the Green. This, just as several businesses are poised to open at 40 Park this year, including Roots Steakhouse, Urban Table and the Qdoba Mexican restaurant chain.
Debra Tantleff of Roseland Properties, the developers of 40 Park, could not confirm a possible Starbucks occupation in her property, except to say "they are interested in the site.
"I really can't get into more detail other than to say we are talking with them," Tantleff said.
Whether the mega coffee brand decides to open a location again in Morristown or not, SmartWorld Coffee owner Dave Walters is not particularly worried. "My thought is, it's not going to affect us over here," he said. Walters noted one of SmartWorld's three locations, in Denville, is located across the street from a Starbucks and "we do just fine."
Walters, who opened SmartWorld's Morristown location about five years ago, noted his business's organic and fair trade ethos has its own niche market, buoyed by customers coming from areas of town away from where Starbucks could potentially be located. Also, Walters said all foods, including baked goods, sandwiches and salads, are made on the premises, as opposed to those served at Starbucks, which are shipped in. Also, "a lot of people think our coffee tastes better than Starbucks," he said.
Walters admitted the new competition could be stiffer depending on his coffee shop's location. "I would think it would affect us more if we were over on the Green," he said.
That's basically the thinking of Jason Czura, who opened Greenberry's Morristown location on the Green in October 2007. "It'll impact business for sure, it's another competitor," he said.
Czura, like Walters, however, was optimistic and noted a "competitive advantage" over Starbucks, which included his business's own fresh-baked and prepared products, as well as community involvement and connection. "We are part of the community," he said. "We wanted to be part of Morristown. You could not ask for a better location."
France Delle Donne, with the Morristown Partnership business association, said Morristown was a big enough and busy enough place to support many coffee tastes, from specialty shops like Greenberry's and SmartWorld, to Kings and the Morristown Deli, which also sell coffee, among other businesses. "I often see people walking around with their Swiss Chalet coffee cup," she said. "We have the traffic, we've got people eager to support local businesses. All the elements are in place for businesses to succeed."
While there always is the potential for some customer loss due to new competition, Czura did not indicate any loss to his business would be dire. "I've talked to a lot of our loyal customers–rumors [of Starbucks coming back to Morristown] have been going on for awhile–90 percent of customers said they would [keep] coming back to Greenberry's. Starbucks brand has been diluted somewhat; they have become the McDonald's of coffee.
"I'm confident we'll be OK," Czura said. "We have weathered the worst economy ... I think we'll make due with another competitor."
Still, Walters offered this: "In economics, if there's three people in the area competing, two make it and one struggles and goes out," he said. "It's nice we're over on this side of town."
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