Local coffee lovers had reason to perk up this Valentine's Day, as Jefferson City's new Starbucks opened Thursday on one of the busiest corners in town.
The Starbucks at 505 Missouri Blvd. — near U.S. 50 and across the street from the former St. Mary's Hospital site under redevelopment — is expected to employ 25 people at its 2,100-square-foot cafe.
The cafe offers Starbucks' Nitro Cold Brew coffee, its popular cold-brewed coffee that's infused with nitrogen and served out of a tap, a Starbucks spokesperson told the News Tribune in an email.
Jefferson City's first freestanding Starbucks comes in addition to locations within Target at 735 W. Stadium Blvd. and Hy-Vee at 3721 W. Truman Blvd.
The restaurant is part of the old St. Mary's Hospital redevelopment site. Farmer Holding Company subsidiary F&F Development gained approval from the Jefferson City Council in August 2017 to redevelop the property using tax increment financing. Starbucks is the first commercial development to begin operating on the redevelopment site.
On Thursday morning, customers had set up shop at tables in the spacious cafe with books, newspapers and laptops as a steady stream of vehicles snaked through the drive-thru.
Concerns about increased traffic in the area, where left turns into or out of the Starbucks parking lot could back up traffic on a busy stretch of Missouri Boulevard, were a consideration before construction began.
"They did a traffic study to look at the impacts of not only just the Starbucks but other potential development that they plan to do there in the old St. Mary's site area," said Trent Brooks, Missouri Department of Transportation Central District traffic engineer. " The thing it pointed out as much as anything was leaving the Starbucks site during certain times of day might be pretty difficult because of the left turn."
Customers can enter and exit the Starbucks parking lot from a road behind the restaurant that connects with Dunklin Street. Jefferson City vacated that already existing road, which now is part of the property owned by F&F Development.
Brooks said MoDOT encouraged the developer to make the alternative entry point clear to customers to avoid traffic backing up onto Missouri Boulevard.
"In the morning, Missouri Boulevard regularly will have traffic backed up from (Whitton) Expressway to the eastbound ramp signals, so now there's additional movements in that area," Brooks said.
He monitored traffic around the new Starbucks late last week.
"There's not that many people turning left after they're leaving the lot — they're either turning right and going downtown or going out on Dunklin Street," he said. " There was a handful of times where there have been people waiting on Missouri Boulevard, but it's been pretty minimal."
Brooks said MoDOT will continue monitoring traffic in the area sporadically.
"If there are issues that need to be addressed, we'll be talking with the developer about those," he said.