Starbucks Corso Italia

Toronto neighbourhood upset that Starbucks is closing

A significant chunk of Toronto's west side is in mourning this week as news of an impending business closure spreads on Facebook.

The business in question? Starbucks at Dufferin and St. Clair.

"I have heard... that Starbucks in Corso Italia is closing on January 31," wrote an administrator in the closed Hillcrest Village, Humewood and Wychwood Facebook group this weekend, referring to the coffee chain's location at 1228 St. Clair Ave. West.

Dozens of local residents have since commented on that post to express their shock and sadness over losing the s'bux and its friendly baristas.

"No!!!!!!!!" wrote one local resident. "Is something else going in? Is it moving ? So many questions!"

"That really really sucks," wrote someone else. "Like Starbucks or not, it created jobs... created a buzz, created a place for people to get work done, a nice patio to sit at with a $5 tab, and was just nice to have it in our neighbourhood."

Many floated the idea that more independent cafés could open in the area, but as one person put it, "If a Starbucks can't even survive here, how will an indie shop?"

The Corso Italia BIA confirmed the news yesterday on Twitter, as did Starbucks itself by email this afternoon.

"I understand that we are closing a store at St. Clair and Dufferin at the end of the month," wrote Tim Gallant, senior communications manager at Starbucks Canada. "As a normal part of doing business, every year we open many new stores, we close some, and relocate a few others."

"We consider several factors when we make these decisions," he continued. "Every partner in this store has been offered a transfer to a nearby store – of which there are several in the local area."

Gallant also dispelled any notion that Starbucks was making its decision based on Ontario's minimum wage increase, as was suggested in the Facebook thread and elsewhere.

"Today the staff told us that they were told [the closure] is because with minimum wage going up, Starbucks can't afford to keep it open there," wrote a blogTO reader by email this morning. 

"I feel as though Starbucks deserves the same criticism as Tim Horton for closing an entire store over $2.60/hr."

Gallant says this claim simply isn't true.

"I can confirm that this has absolutely nothing to do with the changes to minimum wage in Ontario," he wrote. "In fact, this is going to be nearly a record year for store openings for us in Canada. A significant portion of the new stores will be located in Ontario."

"At Starbucks Canada we are not cutting shifts or hours, and have no planned price changes as a result of the minimum wage increase in Ontario," he explained. "Our leading and comprehensive benefits remain unchanged."

Not to sing the praises of Starbucks, but with a benefits package that includes dental, medical, tuition reimbursements, tons of free coffee and a "$5,000 a year mental health benefit for psychology and social worker services," it's safe to say that this isn't Tim Hortons.

Not by a long shot (of espresso, lol). 

Lead photo by

Laurence Tsai

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