Starbucks opens store in Jamaica to create jobs for youth

Baristas David Merrick (l.) and Nigel Armstrong (r.) predict the new Jamaica store will have a good effect on the community.
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Starbucks held a preview opening for its new store in Jamaica Monday, the first of at least 15 stores that will open throughout the United States to hire and train youth in diverse and urban communities. The store will officially open Tuesday at 6 a.m.

The store at 89-02 Sutphin Blvd. includes an onsite classroom space available to local nonprofit organizations to provide job training and skills building programs for young people in the area.

It is part of the chain’s goal of hiring 10,000 opportunity youth, 16- to 24-year-old individuals who are not in school and not employed.

“I was born and raised in Jamaica and I feel connected to this place,” said Alisha Wrencher, the store manager, who has worked for Starbucks for 18 years. “I know how much this store can do to create a brighter future for our opportunity youth and am honored that Starbucks chose me to lead this new store.”

Borough President Katz, who has launched the Jamaica Now Action Plan to revitalize Jamaica, praised the selection of the borough as the beta site.

“We understand that this is a prototype for the rest of the nation, but just to be clear: it started in Queens,” Katz said, her words met with applause from the crowd.

Starbucks has partnered with the Queens Connect’s Queens Community House and YMCA’s Y Roads Centers, which will be utilizing a dedicated training space within the store specially created by the Starbucks design studio.

The Jamaica store is the first in a nationwide initiative Starbucks announced last year to deepen investments in at least 15 similar U.S. communities by 2018 by opening stores with the goal of creating new jobs and engaging local women and minority-owned and vendors and suppliers.

The Jamaica store has 17 employees ranging in age from 16 to 36 who hail from Brooklyn, parts of Queens and Jamaica in the Caribbean. The next location will be in the West Florissant neighborhood of Ferguson, Mo.

“One of the things that we’ve learned over the time is that we can’t do it alone,” said Rodney Hines, director of community investments for Starbucks retail operations.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

Posted 1:26 pm, March 7, 2016
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Reader feedback

great example from queens says:
Wonderful example. Selling over priced products to people who do not need them.
March 7, 2016, 2:52 pm
marketableskilllsmatter from Queens says:
Ok so...they'll teach youth how to pour coffee. Fine. That aside, this is what drives the minimum wage and no one should complain about it. Higher marketable skills= higher wages; low to no skills= minimum wages. This also translates to 'free enterprise'. You get paid what you're worth.
March 8, 2016, 3:06 am
stevieboo from queens says:
Most of those 'born and raised' in Jamaica had the sense to move out, and quickly, into better neighborhoods as soon as they could and in turn became better people for it. The Katz woman and those other attention-seeking boot-licking politicians have done absolutely ZERO for Jamaica. Looks like erecting a boring starbucks is their claim to laughable fame.
March 8, 2016, 3:10 am
anon from queens says:
Don't worry it has been Starbucked, now it's only a matter of time before the liberals start to move in slowly. It'll happen within about 10 years or so.
March 8, 2016, 6:20 am
Joe Moretti from Jamaica says:
Somewhat sad that this community gets all excited about a Starbucks opening. That is because the bar is set so low in Jamaica and we have nothing here for the most part except third world crap.

And stevieboo got it right "The Katz woman and those other attention-seeking boot-licking politicians have done absolutely ZERO for Jamaica. Looks like erecting a boring starbucks is their claim to laughable fame."

Could not have said it better and have said that exact same thing many times over.

I mean this is called "progress".
March 8, 2016, 7:20 am
Joe Moretti Part 2 from Jamaica says:
Look here, no over there, no I mean this way, not the other way. Look, it it’s Kim Kardashian’s big butt.

Anything to distract from a problem or problems, so that elected officials and other leaders do not have to be held accountable or do anything about actual real problems.

While Starbucks opening in Jamaica (the official opening is today 3.8.16) is a good thing, a Starbucks opening anywhere else would not be any kind of news, let alone positive, in fact many communities feel a Starbucks opening is a negative thing. But here in Jamaica, the bar is set so damn low and I mean low, third world ghetto low, that this is looked at like the 2nd coming of you know who. If you don’t, the many idiot Watchtower folks in Jamaica will tell you.

Almost every media rag, I mean outlet, has jumped on this story. Although the reason for the story is not that a Starbucks is opening (they open almost everywhere), but that this Jamaica Starbucks is part of an initiative to hire and train local youth who are not in school. The Jamaica Starbucks is the first of its kind to offer such a program and is part of a wider goal to reach 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 24 nationwide.

Now that is the good thing, but it still is not the big whoop de do that the power that be are jumping on. —— Queens Borough President, Melinda Katz stated in the Times Ledger article “We understand that this is a prototype for the rest of the nation, but just to be clear: it started in Queens,”, which of course her words met with applause from the crowd at the preview on Monday at this Starbucks. Hell, a fart from the woman would be met with an applause by the sheeple. She stated laughably in the AM New York article “This youth opportunity center, we are so excited (about) because you’re not only bringing a great corporate citizen but you’re also educating our children,” Katz said. “This is a prototype for the rest of the nation.” WHAT THE F**K. Exactly how is that educating our children, I mean to serve a “venti mocha latte with soy milk, extra sugar” getting paid minimum wage the new career choice in the most expensive city in the country. I guess it is a notch above collecting cans and bottles out of people’s garbage, the career choice of our many new immigrants from third world countries.

I don’t know if any of the useless crew from Jamaica was there, but they would be uttering the same bul. BUT IN REALITY, Katz and those other a-hole politicians (like Comrie, Cook, Wills, Meeks, etc) have done absolutely ZIP for Jamaica, NOTHING, NADA. So now is erecting a Starbucks going to be their big feather in the cap that they will use at town hall meetings.

Now getting back to this initiative about hiring local youth who are not in school (and why aren’t they in school). During the preview opening, none of the employees present during the unveiling were hired as part of the youth outreach program, most had found their way into the world of lavish coffee brewing on their own. Hines said that the program will begin recruiting next month. We will just see down the road, on how this program is going.

Now I am not putting down a Starbucks in the area (although I think Starbucks coffee sucks), nor this program. I am glad to see something that is not a 99 cent store, something that is not a beauty & supply store, something that is not the typical low-class, third world ghetto —— establishment that is all too prevalent in this area, BUT please don’t make this out to be the savior of Jamaica, like the leaders did with CityRib, which eventually closed to rise as Moda Grill, which is not doing so great. Because if you do, this just gives reason for elected officials to just coast in their public service position, which they have done for decades.

What about cleaning up a very blighted area, areas like Jamaica Ave, Sutphin Blvd, where Starbucks is located, the awful Hillside Avenue, South Jamaica, Merrick Blvd, hell the whole damn area, which looks like a dumping ground for garbage. What about all the homeless shelters they are constantly dumped into the area, along with methadone clinics. What about the poisonous waste facilities and tons of auto body shops that litter the area. And what about bringing companies, big companies, you know the kind that actually pay good wages into the area as opposed to saying “we have created jobs” and by that you mean minimum wage jobs, just like Starbucks. A clean, civilized area is what attracts people and businesses, this has been proven time and time again.

LIC is not only being developed (and overdeveloped) with quality housing, but big businesses are moving into that area, businesses that pay well. But let’s face it, LIC is the only place in Queens, that the powers that be really give a s**t, everywhere else, you are on your own.

Here in Jamaica, everyone is having an orgasm because a Starbucks is opening.
March 8, 2016, 8:11 am

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