It's hard to recover when something throws a wrench into your morning routine: a deodorant stain, a flat tire, the closure of your favorite coffee haunt. Earlier this month, Starbucks announced its plans to shut down 600 of its 7,257 U.S. stores in response to the lackluster economy. Six Tampa Bay stores are on the chopping block, slated to close between now and mid-2009. We visited the ill-fated stores to find out how regular customers are taking the news and to scope out nearby alternatives for a cup o' joe.
Store: 13811 W Hillsborough Ave.
Caffeine fiend: Robert Thurston, 28, comes in every day for a venti caramel Frappuccino and to visit his fiancee, a barista.
His Plan B: "I'll go to whatever Starbucks she gets transferred to."
Another option: Big Apple Bagels, less than 2 miles west at 4058 Tampa Road in Oldsmar, offers an assortment of hot and cold lattes, cappuccinos and mochas.
Store: University Mall, 2164 E Fowler Ave.
Caffeine fiend: Amanda Targowski, 19, works two stores down at Davant Sweet candy shop. When we broke the news that the mall's Starbucks is getting the ax, she gasped audibly. "Oh, no!" said Targowski, who frequents the cafe daily and sips her beverages from a Starbucks travel mug. "I'm a Starbucks addict. It stinks because I always rely on that Starbucks to wake me up in the morning. It sucks." Adding insult to injury, Targowski holds a second job at Westfield Citrus Park, which also has a Starbucks on the chopping block. "Can't you just leave mine alone?" she pleaded to Seattle.
Her Plan B: She'll buy Starbucks coffee from a grocery store and brew it at home.
Other options: The next-closest Starbucks stores are at 5006 E Fowler Ave. and inside the USF library at 4202 E Fowler Ave. Also within walking distance, on the other side of Fowler, are several gas stations and a Dunkin' Donuts.
Store: Westfield Citrus Park, 8021 Citrus Park Town Center.
Caffeine fiend: Adolfo Lopez, 23, works at a group of kiosks equidistant from the mall's two Starbucks stores. He frequents both cafes, ordering something different every day.
His Plan B: He'll use the remaining Starbucks, located at the mall's main entrance. "The only other place you can get coffee around here is a regular store," Lopez said, "and it's just regular coffee."
Store: 625 Sixth Ave. S.
Caffeine fiend: Toni Farmer, 39, works across the street from Starbucks at Bayfront Medical Center. "When I heard about it (closing), I was sad because I park in the parking garage and come through to get coffee. It's convenient," she said. Farmer stops by two or three mornings a week for a tall or venti bold coffee of the week.
Her Plan B: "Probably drink the hospital coffee. It's okay, but I just prefer Starbucks because I really enjoy their coffee."
Another option: There's a Starbucks within walking distance at the Hilton St. Petersburg, 333 First St. S.
Store: 904 N McMullen Booth Road.
Caffeine fiend: Abraham Alessa, 22, stops by every afternoon for a grande white mocha.
His Plan B: Go to the Hess gas station at 1625 N McMullen Booth Road. There's a Dunkin' Donuts inside.
Store: Westfield Countryside, 27001 U.S. 19 N, Clearwater. There are two Starbucks in the mall; the one on the second floor is closing.
Caffeine fiend: As manager of the mall's Vonage kiosk, Ryan McGovern, 23, works literally a stone's throw from the second-story Starbucks. He orders something different every day.
His Plan B: "Go downstairs."