Provo will get its first stand-alone Starbucks next year and — if that’s not enough to make you spit out your coffee — the new shop will be located in front of the Brigham Young University campus.
Can you say temptation?
Students at the school, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are taught as part of the faith’s health code to abstain from coffee and tea.
The Seattle-based coffee giant recently confirmed that it plans to open a store at 1160 N. University Ave. in the spring of 2020.
“As our first location to open in Provo,” a company spokesperson said in an email, “we are thrilled to become a part of the neighborhood and serve as a gathering place for citizens of the community.”
The new drive-thru location will feature a 2,400-square-foot cafe and works by area artists.
Technically, it’s not the first Provo Starbucks — the Marriott Hotel operates a licensed cafe in its lobby. But it will be the first company-owned store.
While its proximity to BYU may seem like a strange location for a Starbucks, the company may be looking at recent statistics — like the ones in the Next Mormons Survey. Those numbers show that younger Latter-day Saints are different than their parents and are less likely to say that it is “essential” to avoid coffee and tea to be a good church member.
To outsiders, it always seemed curious that Provo never had a stand-alone store — especially since there are several in surrounding Utah County towns from Lehi and American Fork to Orem and Springville.
The obvious absence has led to rumors that city officials secretly had banned the coffee giant from its borders.
Dixon Holmes, Provo’s economic development director, laughed about the conspiracy theory.
“Our city regulations are nondenominational, and we don’t have a prohibition on coffee,” he said, noting that “while Starbucks is cool and has plenty of name recognition, Provo has had a plethora of coffee shops for a long time.”
Juice 'n Java was one of the first in Provo, Utah’s third most populous city with about 117,000 residents. More recently, Rugged Grounds and Peace on Earth have opened, said Holmes. He pointed out other restaurants such as Kneaders Bakery and Einstein Bros. Bagels “where you can get all the coffee you want.”
Still, he acknowledged that the arrival of Starbucks does indicate the city’s evolution. “Obviously Provo and BYU are known for being fairly conservative,” he said. “But we have evolved in recent years to be more diverse.”
“Yikes!” That’s what Provo native and Rugged Grounds co-owner Skyler Saenz said when heard the Starbucks news. “Provo has done really well at keeping out the corporate entities like Starbucks.”
Saenz wasn’t sure if having the coffee giant would hurt his small business, especially since Starbucks tends to be “coffee for the masses,” while smaller shops, like his, “focus on the nuances of coffee.”
Still, he added, “if people are drinking coffee in Provo, that’s a good thing.”