Yvonne Boltze looks around the coffee shop she’s brought to life at 316 Alvarado St., admiring local art on the walls and regulars shooting the breeze in the spacious corner seats. With a resigned sigh, she says, “I’m a statistic. I’ve read about corporations coming in and taking over indie businesses, but holy moly, now I’m one of those!”
Cafe 316 and two other tenants are vacating the downtown Monterey space by June 30 to make room for two national chains across from the Portola Hotel and Spa. One of the tenants, frozen yogurt empire Pinkberry, is set in stone; the other’s widely rumored to be Starbucks.
Calls to Terranomics, the Brisbane-based retail brokerage firm that manages Starbucks locations on the Central Coast, were not returned. Judy Marotta, who with her brother Mike co-owns Marotta Family Partners and the 316 building, refuses to speak about the building or its future tenants until all papers are signed.
According to Boltze, however, the Marottas told her Starbucks has been after her space since before she set up shop in early 2009. “They’ve turned Starbucks down in the past,” she says.
Whether or not the coffee behemoth moves in, the building is slated for a remodel, beginning in early July, to split its first floor into two spaces.
“We are very excited about these tenants, as they will be open seven days a week and a minimum of 12 hours per day,” Mike Marotta told Monterey Mayor Chuck Della Sala and the City Council in a letter dated April 20. “They will not only bring excitement and business to our downtown, but will also be providing approximately 20 full-time and 20 part-time jobs.”
Pinkberry licensee Dan Bowen gave an overview of the company, which has more than 100 locations in the U.S., Mexico and the Middle East, at the May 3 City Council meeting. Pinkberry intends to make the Monterey store its flagship location on the Central Coast.
Council Member Nancy Selfridge thinks Pinkberry, with its emphasis on fresh ingredients and customer-friendly perks such as online ordering and curbside service, will attract much-needed traffic downtown.
“My daughter lives in San Jose and loves [Pinkberry],” Selfridge says. “I’m sure people here will, too.”
But will they love it more than local chain Myo Frozen Yogurt, just down the street? Co-founder Stewart Roth says he’s not worried.
“We receive a lot of support from the community,” says Roth, who oversees three other Myo locations, including one on Cannery Row. “We have no strategic plan to compete on the national level. We’re a family-owned business based here.”
The building’s upstairs tenant, The Sustainability Academy, will be minimally impacted by the renovations below. But Jennifer Sardina, the nonprofit’s executive director, has high hopes the Marottas will be as supportive of green building improvements downstairs as they have been of the academy’s earth-friendly remodeling.
“They’re more than willing to build the most responsible, green property in Monterey,” Sardina says. “And we’re willing to educate them in the practices.”
It’s a bittersweet time for Boltze, who’s not sure what her next move will be. But she harbors no ill will against the Marottas and hopes to rekindle her vision of a space that’s an art and performance venue first, coffee shop second. Until then, “My backup plan is standing outside with a really nice cardboard sign that says, ‘Will brew for… ’”