Meeting Tests Coffee Shop Waters

Meeting Tests Coffee Shop Waters

Weighing the damage between another coffee shop and it's accompanying traffic or an empty bank building was part of Supervisor Sharon Bulova's (D-Braddock) motivation for calling an informal meeting with citizens to let them in on a possible newcomer at University Mall.

"We held a 'test the water's' meeting," said Bulova, about her meeting with area homeowners.

The meeting was originally the idea of Greenberry's Coffee & Tea Company which is based in Charlottesville.

Members of the Country Club View Civic Association were among the attendees of the meeting. That community is right behind the shopping center and other developments through the years with University Mall have concerned the residents. Linda Creighton, the first vice president of Country Club View, was at the meeting.

"It was nice that we were notified, we were concerned about the potential for increase in traffic," she said. "I appreciate the courtesy to let us know that this was proposed."

The coffee shop will be located in the old Provident Savings/Crestar/ Suntrust Bank building, which is a stand-alone building in the parking lot. It would be renovated in a coffee shop configuration with two of the three drive-through lanes removed. It will have indoor and outdoor seating. Concerns about the proposed addition include traffic, trees, drainage and architectural compatibility.

The efforts by Greenberry's are an early step in the process. The company hasn't even applied for a special exception amendment yet. The invitation letter sent by Bulova's office on Sept. 10 said that she will notify "residences closest to the shopping center as well to anyone who requests to be on the list."

DUNKIN DONUT'S has an interest in the proposal, with their front door located within 100 yards of the empty bank building. Manager Tony Zulueta only heard of the coffee shop plans from other customers.

"I wasn't informed," he said, but remembers a proffer situation with the shopping center that would not allow a food establishment to operate there.

"I thought it was a proffer not to have food service [there], that's my understanding," he said.

Bulova said any kind of proffer or arrangement on that building would have been between Dunkin Donuts and the shopping center management.

"My job was to let the community know this was a possibility. Greenberry would have responded to the shopping center owner that advertised the space," Bulova said.

Colleen Lancelotta is a Dunkin Donut's die hard. She's originally from up north where Dunkin Donut's rules the coffee world. "I wouldn't go anywhere else," she said.

Although she lives in the nearby Middleridge community, she hadn't heard of the meeting.

"I'd rather see a bank there or something," she said.

Nancy Singh of Fairfax, stood in line for her morning coffee at Dunkin Donut's. She contacted Bulova's office in the past when a construction project on Braddock Road was in the plans years ago.

"The manager here probably won't be thrilled," she said.

GREENBERRY'S COFFEE & TEA Company has two other stores in the area that recently opened in Roslyn and McLean. The store in Roslyn is on Wilson Boulevard within a few blocks of two Starbucks and a cybercafe, Atomic Grounds. Tim Hodes and Mark Reedy manage the store and advertise by word of mouth and drive-by business.

"We're hitting our projections. Quality of our product makes the difference, there's enough people that drink coffee," Hodes said.

Hardwood floors and slate counters are features of every store. Greenberry's prices its coffee about five cents cheaper per cup than Starbucks. A small cup at Greenberry's in Roslyn is $1.41 and Starbucks is $1.46.

Their beans are roasted in Charlottesville.

"Most of our stores are in Virginia, but we have one in Houston, Texas," said a representative of the company in Charlottesville.

When Greenberry puts in for the special exception permit, there will be a public hearing. There will be an announcement on a sign by the building.

"There will be something posted notifying everyone that there will be a public hearing. It's a public hearing and anybody that wants to testify is welcome to do so," Bulova said.