Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include additional information from the Evanston Police Department.
Early in the week of Feb. 27, a sign appeared in the window of the Starbucks at 1901 Dempster St., two blocks south of Evanston Township High School.
“Due to safety and security, we’ve adjusted our café hours:
Monday: Closed 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Tuesday-Friday: Closed 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Thank you for understanding.”
Student dismissal from ETHS is at 2:07 p.m. on Mondays and 3:35 p.m. all other weekdays.
An ETHS official did not immediately respond to questions from the RoundTable about any reported incidents at this location, or if the school was aware of any issues with students congregating in that area.
Evanston Police, though, confirmed over the weekend that officers have responded to “disturbances” in the past at both the Starbucks and McDonald’s on the corner of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue.
“It is not uncommon for high schoolers to hang out at these locations after dismissal and for EPD to receive the associated disturbances related calls,” Sgt. Ken Carter said. “However, we have not had any recent critical incidents or major incidents at either location. As recently as September 2022, McDonald’s hired their own security staff.”
A Starbucks spokesperson said he did not have “one specific incident to point to” regarding the change in hours, and that individual store workers and managers have leeway to adjust hours and café layouts depending on staff needs.
The spokesperson declined to give any more specifics on the nature of the staff’s security concerns. And, when the RoundTable visited the store in person on Friday, March 3, the manager said she was not authorized to speak to the media.
The RoundTable also asked workers at the nearby McDonald’s, Dunkin, Subway and Burger King about recent incidents, or if they ever close down during weekday afternoon hours near ETHS dismissal time. Staff at those restaurants said that crowds can get chaotic around that time, which can cause problems, but they have largely maintained normal hours for the time being.
A McDonald’s employee, though, said the restaurant sometimes closes between 3:45 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. on different days.
I understand the consternation of Dodge/Dempster residents about the proliferation of fast food establishments in their neighborhood. There is an apocryphal quote by Willy Sutton. When asked why he robs banks, he replied, “because that’s where the money is,” and the same can be said for fast food places at busy intersections and strip malls. That is not going to change. Therefore, the solutions to congested traffic and unruly patrons lie in ways to better manage traffic and patrons.
I myself have noticed many times how unsafe it is to drive through that intersection (even when Starbuck’s is not the destination), as well as to drive into and out of the Starbuck’s parking lot during rush hour, and also how loud and misbehaved the ETHS students at Starbuck’s’s can get. Their presence has ruined many a perfectly good cup of coffee during what had been intended as relaxing breaks.
I believe that:
1. the City of Evanston should monitor that intersection more regularly for traffic violators
2. the managers of Starbuck’s should change the traffic flow in their lot and hire a security guard during the height of after school hours. That way, all patrons could drive in and out safely and enjoy their coffee time safely. AND, Starbuck’s could continue to make money during some very busy hours.
Win-win for all!
America needs law and order and district attorneys with a backbone.
Agree this is a dangerous intersection… to that point, City of Evanston never really listened to neighbors’ concerns when they stuck multiple fast food restaurants, Starbuck’s, etc. all at a major intersection and traffic hotspot . As a longtime resident of Dempster we have dealt with brutal traffic back ups, speed racing on the Dempster freeway, our 200 year old elm being careened into, constant fast food refuse on lawns and bushes (we were promised that BK and McDonald’s staff would do garbage patrol– more “good neighbor BS” for the 2nd Ward) every time they tried to dump more fast food at Dempster and Dodge, all to no avail—- over 20 years! Now, we have businesses adjusting hours instead of limiting number of teens being allowed in, banning troublemakers, or better yet, holding kids responsible for their behavior and teaching them skills to succeed in the world beyond ETHS. Another option, only allowing kids in if supervised by their parent. This would quickly change how many kids would be creating enough havoc that a business has to close in order to avoid ill behaved kids.
Maybe in the future Northwestern University will close Ryan Field (aka Dyche Stadium) due to unsafe conditions caused by college students after sporting events.
Between 2012 and 2019 the City of Evanston had a national award winning youth development program that staffed outreach workers along Dodge Ave. and at the McDonald’s and Starbucks during dismissal. During that time period it proved to be a successful intervention. Sad to see this and other issues that have developed since that program ended.
What was the name of the program? I’d love to learn more about this!
It would seem that should be a time for increase in sales.
I don’t blame Starbucks. That time of day is not a good time to be there. 90% of the kids are well behaved but that last 10% makes it unsafe. The Starbucks on Central is much safer.
There was a shooting at McDonalds last September at around 4pm.
Does anyone know If EPD ever caught the shooter?
That place is a traffic hazard. During peak hours, there’s way more cars that want to get into the drive-thru there than fit, which leads people to do a variety of questionable things that lead to obstructing traffic on Dempster. They need to add a second drive-thru lane, or knock the place down and reconfigure the lot in a way that doesn’t cause problems.
Thanks for bringing the traffic slat to this report. Makes sense. Too bad Starbucks didn’t explain.
Agreed! It’s a dangerous intersection.
There’s a very easy solution to this which is to force people to enter off of South-bound Dodge instead of Dempster! This makes me totally nuts every time I try to go here.
The drive-thru at the Starbucks at Central is also a hazard for both other traffic and pedestrians.
Completely agree the Starbucks is obstructing traffic on Dempster and Dodge they should consider moving to a different location.