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CoHo survives Starbucks opening

Employees at the Coffee House(CoHo) braced for the worst when they first heard that a new Starbucks was opening just doors down from their long-standing Tresidder location. The Starbucks shop, which opened in August, would be the first full-service store built and operated by the coffee chain on a college campus anywhere in the country.

JIN ZHU/The Stanford Daily

Three months later, however, the effect of the new coffee shop has not impacted CoHo’s sales as much as anticipated, according to Erick Guzman, director of operations at CoHo.

“We actually expected worse, because as a business, that’s what you prepare for,” Guzman said. “So far, if I base it on our sales, we’re coming through.”

In the first month of Starbucks’ opening, CoHo’s sales “took a hit,” reflected by a 10 percent drop in sales compared to the previous year. Since then, however, CoHo’s “sales have stabilized and are flat versus last year,” according to Guzman.

Guzman was as surprised as the rest of the Stanford community when he found out about the arrival of Starbucks this summer as the construction was underway. He described the process as “hush-hush” and “covert,” but quickly came to terms with the move.

“You know, it’s here now,” Guzman said, with a shrug. “We just have to contend with it best that we can, and we’ve been doing okay.”

In order to contend with Starbucks and keep its customer base, the CoHo has updated its menu practically daily, according to Guzman, who described the effort as “diligent.”

Students reported that the shop’s menu is one of the main reasons they go to CoHo over Starbucks.

“CoHo is way better for meals than Starbucks,” Adebia Ntoso ’15 said.

“If I want a double chocolate chip vanilla bean Frappuccino with whipped cream and chocolate chips, I go to Starbucks,” Jeremy Gilfor ’15 said. “Panini? CoHo.”

According to Guzman, “the food and coffee categories have contributed the same sales percentage as they have in past years.”

CoHo hopes to maintain its unique ambience as a way of distinguishing itself from Starbucks, according to Guzman. In part because of CoHo’s comfortable couches and background smooth jazz, many students mark it as a favorite campus study spot.

CoHo also features several community performances a week, such as Stanford Jazz performances on Mondays, monthly open-mic nights and Thursday Night Live Concerts hosted by the Stanford Concert Network.

The CoHo has almost continuously resided in its current Tresidder location since 1966, under different management. When the shop was almost closed in 2007 due to Old Union renovations, students spoke out in favor for its return, helping to bring CoHo back in June 2008.

“Even though I love Starbucks, it’s not a Stanford establishment,” Graciela Arango ’15 said. “CoHo is only at Stanford– I go to it and feel like it’s part of my Stanford experience. After I graduate, I’m going to remember going to CoHo, not Starbucks.”