Battle Brewing Over Starbucks in Boston's North End

A battle is brewing in Boston's North End over a proposed coffee shop that some long-time locals say is not welcome.

Business owners are fighting against Starbucks being the anchor of a piazza on the corner of historic Hanover Street, saying it would change the charm of the predominately Italian neighborhood.

North End residents and businesses showed how steamed they were by the plan Thursday night, when the first of three public meetings on the topic was held at Nazzaro Community Center.

"We don't want you," one man said at the meeting. "Plain and simple."

The chain is being proposed as part of a project from Charter Realty. A spokesperson for the Connecticut-based company said the piazza would keep within the character of the neighborhood and include an Italian heritage monument.

"They've, like, with a lot of pride, done a really nice job of making it blend into all the other local architecture," spokesperson Dan Cece said.

In spite of public opposition, Charter is moving forward with the plan.

Charter has owned the property since 2014 and has gone through all of the appropriate steps of development, Cece said. The company says Starbucks is considered an acceptable use of the space, according to their agreement, and they plan to add a local business to the strip, too.

Tourists and business owners sounded off on the coffee controversy Thursday before the meeting. Some questioned why Starbucks needs another location.

"They want to take away from everyone here and they have 10 locations within a half a mile," said the manager of Café dello Sport, Mivan Spencer.

Damien DiPaola, the owner of Carmelina's and Vito's Tavern in the North End, is rallying opposition among North End business owners. He has put up signs around the neighborhood and launched a petition that had more than 1,200 signatures as of Thursday night.

"We don't need Charter Realty and Starbucks to put up a monument for us," DiPaola said. "Why are they giving us a bone? We don't need their bone."

There are already some chains in the North End, but many said Starbucks would be too front-and-center on the historic corner.

"We don't want to be big corporation Italy. We want to stay small," Toni Picariello of tourist favorite Modern Pastry said.

Those in favor of the new Starbucks have also started a petition and social media accounts promoting the project called "North End Piazza on the Greenway."

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