A unique downtown Starbucks is set to open Saturday at Stadium Park Plaza. The national coffee shop chain's store is in a space facing the entrance to Bowling Green Ballpark. That space will also house a WKU store, to be called Topper Corner, where items produced by Western Kentucky University students will be sold along with WKU apparel and other gift shop items. Bowling Green Hot Rods merchandise will also be sold at the venue.
Stadium Park Plaza developer Jerry Katzoff said he has letters of intent with other tenants for the downtown building, with announcements expected soon. The Starbucks, he said, will be "one of the nicest in town."
The Starbucks/Topper Corner space occupies about 4,500 square feet with about half of that being the Starbucks cafe. "This will be the biggest Starbucks in Bowling Green," said Starbucks Food Service Manager Robert Peach.
The coffee shop, with seating for around 100, has some local themed features, including light fixtures made out of real Corvette exhaust systems and manifolds, as well as local artwork. The decor has a lighter color palette than many other Starbucks, with white subway tiles and light-colored reclaimed wood used throughout. Other features include a private conference room at the back of the store for use by patrons, plentiful electric outlets on tables and benches for electronic devices and a patio with a fire pit. A newly designed Starbucks pastry case in the Bowling Green store will be "the first one in Kentucky and Tennessee," Peach said.
The Topper Corner space will be partitioned off with a gate when it is closed and the Starbucks is open. Topper Corner is slated to open around July 1, said Gary Meszaros, assistant vice president of Business and Auxiliary Services at WKU.
The Starbucks' hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. The store may remain open longer hours when there are special events in the area, said Peach. It will employ about 20, he said.
Katzoff previously said he "pulled off a coup" by getting Starbucks to agree to open a location in the building. He said Starbucks was reluctant to open the location because of inadequate foot traffic, but he was able to partner with WKU and successfully lobby for the project.
"Starbucks has a way to legitimize a building," he said.
A Starbucks also recently opened inside the Kroger on U.S. 31-W By-Pass. The national chain also has a store inside the Downing Student Union at WKU and has freestanding stores on Campbell Lane and Scottsville Road.
— Follow city government reporter Wes Swietek on Twitter @BGDNgovtbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.