This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.
Now that the city is about to see the closing of seven Starbucks, Sacramentans are learning the real value of a coffee shop. It's not the frappuccino, latte or mocha. It's much more. A coffee shop is a gathering place, what sociologist Ray Oldenburg has called a "third place" after home and work.
That's especially apparent in Oak Park, a struggling neighborhood. The Starbucks at Broadway and 35th Street has been an essential part of redeveloping a beautiful 1915 building that had become a derelict hotel with drugs and prostitution – and now includes an art gallery, the Guild Theater, a bookstore, a barbershop and upstairs apartments in addition to the coffee shop.
This block was part of now-Mayor Kevin Johnson's effort to jump-start an Oak Park renaissance.
The corner coffee shop was not an accidental piece, but a deliberate decision to have a shop that would play a unifying role in the neighborhood – a way for regulars from all walks of life to get together and share conversation – and for visitors and newcomers to be welcomed and get connected to the neighborhood.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.