Starbucks Invades The South Bronx; Corporate Behemoth to Open in Melrose

Coming Soon: Starbucks. There goes the neighborhood?
Coming Soon: Starbucks. There goes the neighborhood?

And then there was Starbucks, the harbinger of gentrification.

Melrose and the surrounding area is experiencing a boom in cafes.

Starbucks is gearing up to open its first official South Bronx location in Melrose on 161st Street at Concourse Village East/Morris Avenue at The Melrose Building in a neighborhood and corridor where two cafes are slated to open and The Bronx Museum’s XM Cafe (that will be serving up The Bronx’s own Morris Perk’s ‘Bronx Blend’) is opening any day now.

260 E 161st Street aka The Melrose Central Building has undergone major capital improvements and redevelopment over the past years and the ground floor space which was once indoor office spaces were turned into retail, some of which are two levels. The redevelopment opened up the ground floor of the building to the public as well as livening up an otherwise what was a dead zone along the edifice.

BOOM!Cafe at BOOM!Health’s new headquarters at Brook Avenue and 161st Street is scheduled to open up sometime in January and WHEDco along with the Bronx Musical Heritage Center, which is slated to break ground on their new building, Bronx Commons, soon, is working on also opening a cafe once they’re up and running in their new space a few years down the road.

Starbucks isn’t the only place in the area where coffee is served as you have Palombo Bakery, the Italian Bronx born and bred mom and pop shop business which opened up a new location earlier this year much to local residents delight just 2 blocks away at a former Burger King form where the coffee giant has planted its first South Bronx roots.

This isn’t technically Starbucks’ first foray into the area as they are located inside Target at The Bronx Terminal Market but it is, however, their first brick and mortar store.

Several local residents expressed concerns when they heard that Starbucks was opening. Two gentlemen who declined to provide their name said, “Starbucks isn’t for most people who live here, we can’t afford that overpriced coffee.” The other man just said he, “…wouldn’t mind a cafe as long as it was something more local and for the community that exists.”

Once Starbucks opens up and the other planned cafes are up and running, Melrose will go from zero to 3 in a short time.

What are your thoughts about Starbucks coming to the neighborhood? Personally, I know there’s room for everyone but I’d rather sit down in a nice relaxing place that’s a mom and pop business especially if they are Bronx based. It’s important to support local over corporate behemoths in our communities for mom and pop shops are the lifeblood of our neighborhoods.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.