Waldo Canyon fire neighbors losing more than a coffee shop with Starbucks' closing

Katie Boswell, the store manager of Starbucks at Centennial Boulevard and Vindicator Drive, was working when the Waldo Canyon fire hit the Mountain Shadows neighborhood. (Christian Murdock, The Gazette file)

It's not about the coffee.

It's about losing a place of community and healing when the Starbucks at Centennial Boulevard and Vindicator Drive closes Nov. 30.

The coffee shop became a hangout for its neighbors - a place where they could find comfort in the aftermath of the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire.

Many of the 346 homes destroyed in the fire were owned by customers of that Starbucks, manager Katie Boswell told the Gazette in August 2012.

"There was a lot of healing going on there," said customer Fernando Urbina, who was evacuated, but did not lose his home. "For us, it was just catharsis to talk to people who had gone through the same experiences as we had."

The store put up a small shelf that displays remnants of several coffee cups and two undamaged mugs found in the rubble of homes destroyed by the fire, Urbina said.

"When you were there, you did not have to feel the trauma around you," said another customer, Malinda Martens, who lives about two miles from the store and visits it about twice a week.

Starbucks officials did not say why the store is closing. Urbina said Starbucks' management told him the company wanted to close the coffee shop last year, but kept it open because of the fire.

The 12 employees at the Vindicator/Centennial Starbucks have the option of being transfered to other stores. Boswell will go to the Starbucks at 7650 N. Academy Blvd., a Starbucks spokesperson said.

Starbucks entered the Colorado Springs market in 1994. The company has about 20 shops in the area, according to its Web site.

Read more here about the Starbucks at Centennial and Vindicator in an archived Side Streets column.

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Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275

 

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