Starbucks in Mount Shasta: Coffee joint owner hopes petition will keep it away

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

The owner of a drive-thru coffee joint in Mount Shasta is hoping an online petition that’s garnered more than 1,000 signatures will keep Starbucks from coming to town.

Suzzanne Mendenhall, owner of The Coffee Brake, hands a customer coffee. The business recently celebrated 20 years in business in Mount Shasta.

Suzzanne Mendenhall opened The Coffee Brake in the Rite Aid parking lot 20 years ago. Starbucks is eyeing the dilapidated KFC/Taco Bell building, which is almost directly across W. Lake Street from the Coffee Brake. 

“Multinational corporations have no place in our rural town – where the residents depend and rely on locally owned businesses,” said Amber Nelson, who created the petition for Mendenhall last week. “The opening of a Starbucks in Mount Shasta opens the door to further undue development. Mount Shasta will lose its essence, making it hardly distinguishable from a chaotic and bustling commercial city.”

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Mendenhall said she’s been told she’s wasting her time with the petition because “it’s a done deal.” 

“But I think ... collecting over 1,000 signatures in less than a week tells something,” Mendenhall said. 

Nelson said she knows Mendenhall because she gets her morning and mid-day pickups at The Coffee Break. 

“(Mendenhall's) a sweet person with a big heart and a small business owner who needed help reaching out to the public,” said Nelson, who has also gone around with paper petitions to reach as many people as possible. 

“I’m very happy that it reached so many locals, (those) who used to be local, or even those who love our town and support locally owned businesses,” Nelson said.

The old KFC/Taco Bell building drive through area was vandalized and will soon be renovated to become a Starbucks.

Mount Shasta planning commissioners will continue discussing an architectural design application for Starbucks’ proposed renovation of the KFC/Taco Bell building at its meeting on March 16. If the design application is approved, the project would then move into the building permit process.

Starbucks store development manager Amber Reed spoke at last month’s planning commission meeting about the proposed renovation, which includes extending the drive-thru area to accommodate more vehicles, removing outdoor refrigerator units, adding an outdoor seating area and new bike racks for customers. The entire inside of the store is also slated to be renovated.

The building, built in 1998, is permitted for fast food only. It used to be owned by DeClerck Enterprises, but is now owned by Darren and Matt Dickerhoof, under Shastahoof, LLC. The building was the recent target of graffiti artists and it’s been sitting empty since late 2019.

A rendering of proposed changes to the current KFC/Taco Bell drive-thru in Mount Shasta.

“Because it’s not a change in use, even if people were to complain or comment and said ‘we don’t want a Starbucks ...’ we don’t have control over that,” said Mount Shasta City Planner Juliana Lucchesi, who noted that Starbucks first approached the city with its proposal in January. 

People that have signed the “Stop Starbucks in Mount Shasta” Change.org petition point out there is already a Starbucks in South Weed, about seven miles north on Interstate 5 from the proposed site in Mount Shasta.

“I was a small business owner, and know well how devastating it feels to compete with a large chain of unlimited budget,” Mount Shasta’s Atara Melo wrote on the petition. “Small businesses provide a space for personal relationships between buyer and seller, which builds community.”

“As a small business owner born in Mount Shasta, I say support small businesses!” wrote Crystal Henson. “Small businesses contribute to the local economy more, they care about their community more, and you'll get a much better cup of coffee to boot!”

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“We have four coffee places already, all small business owners and great quality product,” wrote Jeanne Yalon Owens. “We don’t need another coffee place, and we need to support the jobs and small businesses owned by locals!”

Other people pointed out that Starbucks will employ around 25 people once it opens, and it offers benefits and education programs to both full and part time employees.

Lucchesi said according to a revenue estimate created by Mount Shasta City Finance Director Muriel Howarth Terrell, Starbucks would bring an additional $10,000 to $20,000 into city coffers annually, and it’s expected to outpace Weed’s Starbucks location.

The petition can be found here.

Skye Kinkade is the editor of the Mt. Shasta Area Newspapers and the Siskiyou Daily News. She is a fourth generation Siskiyou County resident and has lived in Mount Shasta and Weed her entire life.