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The longtime Starbucks location at 134 N. Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs will close Sunday. But the space will be filled in mid-May by Solar Roast Coffee, a Pueblo-based company that roasts its coffee using solar equipment. The location will be Solar Roast’s first bricks-and-mortar storefront in the Springs.

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Starbucks, the coffee behemoth known for opening more locations than it closes, will shutter a store Sunday at 134 N. Tejon St. in downtown Colorado Springs.

Seattle-based Starbucks didn’t respond Friday to questions about why the shop is closing. Simon Penner, a director with commercial brokerage Newmark Knight Frank who markets the space, said Starbucks’ lease was up, but the company gave no reason for leaving.

Starbucks continues to have a downtown presence with locations at 7 S. Tejon and inside The Antlers hotel at 4 S. Cascade Ave.

National news outlets reported last year that Starbucks planned to close 150 underperforming locations around the country in 2019, but it’s unknown if the store at 134 N. Tejon was one of them. While saying it would close locations, Starbucks also has said it plans to open 2,100 sites globally this year.

Downtown locations can pose a challenge for Starbucks.

On the one hand, they typically receive a steady stream of customer traffic from tourists, downtown visitors and employees who walk over from their offices, said Mark Useman, a retail specialist with commercial brokerage Colorado Springs Commercial.

But for at least the last decade, Useman said, Starbucks has been repositioning stores — constructing or remodeling free-standing buildings with seating and drive-thrus.

Starbucks gets a big percentage of business via its drive-thrus because customers like the convenience, he said. Parents with kids and pets, for example, don’t want to get out of their vehicles when they’re getting their beverages. But few downtown locations can accommodate drive-thrus.

In Colorado Springs in recent years, Starbucks razed a Taco Express on South Nevada Avenue and replaced it with a new building; remodeled a Burger King on Cheyenne Boulevard near The Broadmoor World Arena; and relocated from a multitenant building at Austin Bluffs Parkway and Academy Boulevard in favor of a new standalone building in a shopping center parking lot east of the intersection.

“Everybody wants to go through a drive-thru when they can,” Useman said.

Starbucks’ space at 134 N. Tejon, however, won’t be vacant for long.

Solar Roast Coffee of Pueblo, a 15-year-old company that uses solar equipment to roast its beans and produce 100 percent, USDA-certified organic coffee, plans to open its first Colorado Springs storefront in mid-May in the soon-to-be vacated Starbucks, said Solar Roast owner Mike Hartkop.

Solar Roast operates two retail coffee shops in Pueblo, along with its roasting operation next door to one of the outlets. Solar Roast also sells coffee on a wholesale basis in Springs-area stores, including King Soopers, Natural Grocers, Sprouts Farmers Market and Mountain Mama Natural Foods.

Colorado Springs has been the company’s strongest location for sales outside of Pueblo, Hartkop said, and he had been looking for a local site when the Starbucks space became available.

He said he was familiar with the location and always thought it would be perfect for a coffee shop. The Tejon corridor, in particular, appealed to him.

“It’s beautiful,” Kartkop said. “It’s the city center. The location is very close to the size of location we have in Pueblo. You can see Pikes Peak. I love old downtowns and you walk down that street and it feels like a downtown.”

Solar Roast’s 1,400-square-foot storefront will employ 12 to 15 full- and part-time employees, Kartkop said. It will operate next door to Bingo Burger, also based in Pueblo, which opened its Tejon Street restaurant in 2014.

Business writer, Colorado Springs Gazette

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