Walsh opposes North End Starbucks proposal
Mayor Martin J. Walsh is opposing a prospective Starbucks location at the entrance to the North End.
The ubiquitous coffeehouse giant had been eyeing the corner of Cross and Hanover streets as a spot to open a new franchise, much to the chagrin of some North End shop and restaurant owners, who worry that the chain would weaken the neighborhood’s historic charm.
In a statement on Friday, Walsh said, “After hearing the concerns from residents about sustaining the culture and historic nature of the North End, I encouraged the applicant to withdraw the proposal to locate a Starbucks at the entrance to the North End.”
The application has not received any of the necessary City Hall approvals it would need to move the project forward, according to the mayor’s office.
It was not clear Friday evening if the Starbucks application had been withdrawn.
Attempts to reach Daniel Toscano, who is listed as the primary applicant on the proposal filed with the city’s inspectional services, were unsuccessful Friday evening. Messages left with Starbucks and Charter Realty, which owns the property in question, were not immediately returned.
John Picariello, co-owner of Modern Pastry, a multi-generational family business that has been in the North End since 1930, welcomed the mayor’s statement.
“Starbucks can go across the street to Faneuil Hall,” he said. “Let us keep the neighborhood the way it should be.”
National chains do exist in the North End; there’s a CVS, two 7-Elevens, and a Peet’s Coffee.
Damien DiPaola, a North End resident who owns Carmelina’s on Hanover Street and Vito’s Tavern on Salem Street, hailed City Hall’s opposition to the Starbucks proposal as a victory for the neighborhood.
“We put down a giant that likes to go into neighborhoods and close down small coffee shops,” he said.
He thought the neighborhood’s reaction to the Starbucks proposal established an important precedent.
“The next time a chain is thinking about coming into the North End, they better think twice,” he said.
Friday evening found the North End bustling as usual with visitors, including Atinuke Diver, 37, and her husband, Joshua Diver, 34, who live in North Carolina. Joshua Diver said he frequents Starbucks, but would not like to see one open in the North End.
“There’s a certain historical charm to this area,” he said. “If you ask for a macchiatto at Starbucks, it’s going to be something vastly different than what the cafes in the area give you.”
His wife was more skeptical of the opposition, since Peet’s Coffee and CVS already exist in the neighborhood.
“There are other brands that aren’t reflective of the historic charm of the North End,” she said, and they seem “to peacefully coexist with businesses in the area.”
Theresa Sapienza, whose mother and grandmother lived on Fleet Street for more than 20 years, thought Starbucks was trying to capitalize on the neighborhood’s ethos.
“The Boston North End is one of the last living museums of Italian heritage,” Sapienza said. “Would you change the eyebrows of the Mona Lisa?”