Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Farewell to Island Plaza Starbucks

When I lived in Boston I think I went to Starbucks only 3 or 4 times, even thought there was one in my hospital and several near my house. I preferred to go to Dunkin' Donuts, basically for the glazed chocolate sticks and donuts. I never really had the desire to go to a coffee shop and sit down for any length of time.

When I moved to Tanjung Tokong I discovered Island Plaza right across the street from where I lived. It had a grocery store for me to do my shopping, a nice small department store and a gym. I visited the grocery store just about every day and soon joined the gym. I go to the gym about 4 days a week, even though you can't tell by looking at me. I was invited to stop at Starbucks by a couple of friends from the gym. Soon I began to stop every day, after either the gym or shopping. I got to know many people there and enjoyed sitting, talking and drinking coffee. There was a good mixture of people including seniors, expats, young people and a variety of local residents. The young staff there were exceptional. They were very attentive, hardworking, friendly and genuine. Unlike some other coffee shops in the area they knew the meaning of customer service. Visiting Starbuck's became an important part of my routine.

Last Thursday when I went in for my latte I was informed that Starbucks at Island Plaza would be closed forever, on the following day. Needless to say I was shocked and saddened. Island Plaza has been undergoing renovation for the past  7 or more months now. Metrojaya department store is gone and Cold Storage has been remodeled, but not improved. The gym is there along with a very few businesses. The Plaza is like a ghost town most of the time, especially after the theater closed. During the renovation Starbucks remained open serving their loyal customers. This has been a very difficult time for the remaining few business at Island Plaza because very few visitors mean very few customers and no profit. They still had to pay the rent, without any profits coming in. According to Starbucks staff the company could no longer afford to stay there, so it decided to close for good.

Now when I go to the gym or Cold Storage I don't stop for coffee or conversation. I wish Oscar, Diana, Shanker, Josh and all of the employees the best of luck in whatever they choose to do. I would also like to thank them for their kindness and friendship. Island Plaza has lost part of its soul.

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