Starbucks Disappears at 4th & South After More Than Two Decades

Remember 1995? Grunge music was coming down from its peak, but an upstart coffee chain that also originated in Seattle was still in the relatively early stages of its meteoric rise. The Starbucks store count of 677 was quite impressive twenty-three years ago, but the number seems almost cute when you consider that the company now has almost 30,000 locations around the world. It was back in 1995 that Starbucks opened one of its first Philadelphia locations on the northeast corner of 4th & South, and the store’s run at this location ended just a couple weeks ago.

Former Starbucks
Sign on the door

We confess, we feel a certain sense of shock at this development. Starbucks is like McDonald’s in that you don’t ever expect to see a location close its doors, so it’s pretty jarring to see paper covering the windows of this storefront after all these years. Then again, as we’ve detailed before, there was once a McDonald’s just two blocks from here which closed down roughly a dozen years ago, so there’s certainly precedent for unusual closings on this corridor. We just hope that this space gets filled more quickly than the former McDonald’s, which sat empty for over a decade, until a nail salon opened in the space this year.

Unlike the 6th & South intersection, 4th & South has seen tremendous retail stability over the years. Copabanana has operated on the southeast corner dating back to before the Starbucks opened. Jim’s Steaks has been on the southwest corner since the Bicentennial. Milkboy, the new kid on the block, has held down the corner for a couple years and seems poised for a lengthy run. One would hope that whatever business opens in the former Starbucks space has some staying power to match its neighbors.

Milkboy, the newest addition to the intersection, on the NW corner
Jim's, a stalwart at 4th & South
Copabanana, across the street

Whatever ultimately opens here, we imagine it won’t be another coffee shop. There are numerous places to grab a cup of the good stuff within three blocks, including Ox Coffee, Green Line, Bodhi, Bean Cafe, Hungry Pigeon, and Dunkin Donuts, just to name the places that come to us off the cuff. Another drinking establishment could work, though retail is also a distinct possibility. Maybe an old friend could make a comeback at this corner?

View of the building in 1959, photo credit to Phillyhistory.org

That’s probably asking too much, but how about the much more reasonable request that any kind of business open here within a year? Given that South Street has seen some other corner businesses shutter in 2018, a quick turnaround at 4th & South would be a welcome salve for the corridor.