Saturday, February 13, 2010

The proximity seems like a lose-lose-lose for everyone involved.

Chino Hills, California (Chino Hills Parkway west of Pipeline).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Klatch Coffee and Starbucks - an interesting turn of events

You have Starbucks, you have the other big chains...and you have the smaller chains.

Klatch Coffee has locations in San Dimas and Rancho Cucamonga, and now they're getting ready to open a new one. Liset the beans:

The Klatch is now expanding, moving into a former Starbucks location in Ontario...

Specifically, the location in 951 North Haven Avenue.

It turns out that I'm familiar with this location - it's near a Kohl's, and right across the street from Ontario Mills. I've been to this Starbucks before and liked it, but I was unaware that this particular Starbucks had closed.

Klatch Coffee's own page on the new location is here.

And to put a little historical perspective on this, it was about two years ago that Starbucks had its famous store closure to teach its baristas how to make coffee. Klatch Coffee took the attitude "Our people ALREADY know how to make coffee," and took advantage of Starbucks' closure. I wrote about it at the time.

I'm sure the management at Klatch Coffee is really enjoying this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The advantage of Facebook-friending Robeks Claremont

Some time ago, I discovered that the Robeks smoothie place in Claremont had its own Facebook page, and I went ahead and joined it. Which ended up paying off.

The page itself is private, so I can't really show it to you, but last weekend they announced that they were going to have a "Free Coffee Smoothies" special on Tuesday between 6pm and 7pm. Customers could sample three of their new smoothies - coffee, mocha, and hazelnut - and the first fifteen people who signed up on Facebook would then be eligible to get a free 12 oz coffee smoothie. However, you had to give Robeks the right to make a Facebook/MySpace commercial of your experience.

By the time I saw the announcement, more than 15 people had already signed up, so I knew that I wouldn't get the free smoothie, but I figured that I'd try the samples.

Unfortunately for Robeks, the hour of their special happened to be the exact same hour that a fierce rainstorm was pelting Claremont. Therefore, by the time I arrived at Robeks at around 6:20 pm, there were fewer than 15 people in the store.

Way fewer.

As in, five people - if you count the two employees.

So the best laid plans of mice and smoothie shops are at the mercy of freak Southern California weather.

They did ask my ratings of the three smoothies on a 1-10 scale, and I gave the coffee smoothie a 7.5-8, the hazelnut smoothie a 6 (I'm not a hazelnut fan), and the mocha a 9.

And because of the low crowds, Robeks gave me one of the coupons anyway - which I then proceeded to give to my daughter later in the evening. (She's the one who introduced me to Robeks anyway, so I owed her something.)

Oh, and they didn't feature me in a Facebook or MySpace commercial - but I am admittedly way outside of their target market...

Incidentally, if you're an Inland Empire Facebook user, just search for "Robeks Claremont" and you'll find their page.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wal-Mart, Snobbery, and Food Choices?

I recently wrote about fast food in my business blog, and fast food plays a part in a theory about Wal-Mart.

But first, let's provide an update. And I'll try to keep calm.

The Ontario Mountain Village Association, as part of their repeated and continued attempts to preserve a graffiti-ridden empty lot in northwest Ontario - I guess they want to lower their property values by having decaying vacant space next to their homes - have filed an appeal of the City of Ontario's decision to finally allow the Wal-Mart to be constructed in northwest Ontario.

However, as I write this, the Ontario Mountain Village Association has apparently not discovered the blog post that covers their lawsuit, because of the four comments on the post, exactly zero of them support the OMVA's position. Matt has (so far) written the longest comment, and while he doesn't support the move to keep the Wal-Mart out of Ontario, he's hoping that Wal-Mart will do more than put a big box at Mountain & 5th.

Target sucks and is no better than Walmart. These stores should both stop wasting our open space on these one story box stores with oceans of parking. They should consider a two level approach with a parking structure, leaving room for a plaza, a parkway, and a restaurant.

This would make these shopping centers interesting for pedestrian shoppers instead of dangerous and uninviting. The big box approach to retail will fizzle out and die like a 1960's shopping mall, even in the burbs.

Build a Super Walmart but build it right. Come on Ontario, I know you can force them to design a more urban walmart plaza or court, a Super Walmart that would make the Chaffey brothers proud...LOL.

I've seen the more urban walmarts. They are much better than a crappy old one story Walmart. They don't waste land! (under-utilization).

But then Matt shared a theory which may be of interest.

The Rancho Cucamonga Walmart is no different from many walmarts I've seen except instead of having Mc Donalds fast food in the parking lot there is a Claim Jumper Restaurant. This is a better restaurant choice which draws larger more diverse crowds to the center while also attracting more affluent shoppers.

Rancho Walmart w/ Claim Jumper
More Affluent ($$ / $$$$$)

instead of

Upland Walmart w/ Mc Donalds
Less Affluent ($ / $$$$$).

Personally, I think that Matt is oversimplifying the causes - I think that the problems in the Upland Wal-Mart are due to bad management rather than food choices, and most people don't base their shopping destination choices on the available food. But it is an interesting idea, and if you believe Matt's model, then what will happen to the Ontario Wal-Mart when Cory Briggs' last appeal is denied and a non-union - oh, did I say "non-union"? I'm sure that doesn't enter into Briggs' plans - when Cory Briggs' last appeal is denied and a store replaces the three empty stores on the vacant lot?

On the one hand, you have a Carl's Jr next to the store site. Score one for Matt's Upland model.

On the other hand, you have a Starbucks, a My Delight Cupcakery, a wings place, a sushi grill, and some other non-fast food restaurants just down the street.

We'll follow this continuing saga.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A hub of an idea

People are really really trying to make Ontario an interconnected transportation hub. On January 6, I wrote about efforts to bring rail to Ontario International Airport. But there's another idea floating around, according to Liset Marquez:

A report released by the Urban Land Institute on Tuesday affirmed the city's vision for the 250-acre site known as the Meredith property.

The city has long envisioned creating a core development centered on a transit plaza on the vacant land just north of the 10 Freeway and east of Vineyard Avenue.

It is one of the few remaining large undeveloped sites in the city.

And, luckily for planners, it's not too far away from the airport. But one part of the plan raises an interesting question.

The recommendations are in line with the city's vision to develop the Meredith property as a lifestyle center with high-density buildings while creating a new urban downtown, said Greg Devereaux, Ontario city manager.

(Sharp-eyed readers will notice that this is a dated story. It's from January 21.)

The one interesting part of this is that the city has spent the last few years sinking lots of money into the EXISTING downtown - and now we're looking at creating a new downtown?