University students who enjoy the Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea locations throughout Ann Arbor will soon have an option much closer to Central Campus.
Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, an Ann Arbor staple since 1993, is opening its fourth Ann Arbor location in the space formerly occupied by Borders at 604 East Liberty St. in Spring 2014. The other Ann Arbor Sweetwaters shops are located downtown, in Kerrytown and on Plymouth Road.
University alum Lisa Bee, owner of Sweetwaters said she was approached by franchisees Sheila Qin Li and Roy Xu to open a new store during the summer, but the East Liberty location wasn’t decided upon until about two months ago. Bee said she’s happy with the new location because Sweetwaters had always wanted to be closer to campus.
Bee is involved with the new 2,020-square-feet shop, which will also have openings for 15 to 20 part-time employees.
Despite the fact that there is a bevy of coffee options all located within a block of the space, Bee said she is not worried about the competition, especially considering the coffee-drinking habits of college students.
“I think we can all co-exist,” Bee said. “We’re in downtown, and there are many coffee shops around downtown and we’re all doing fine.”
Music, Theatre & Dance sophomore Michael Saterson, a Starbucks employee, said the addition of Sweetwaters to the area will impact sales, but he doesn’t think it will sway Starbucks regulars.
Kirstin VanDeventer, a manager at the Biggby Coffee on East Liberty, said she doesn’t expect Sweetwaters to impact the sales of the company because of the different environments the two cafés offer.
“We have a very unique menu, and I stand by that,” VanDeventer said.
Bee will also be involved in the interior design plans, which she said may be different from the environment of other franchises.
“It will take on the personality of the location that it’s in — more geared toward students,” she said.
Bee said Sweetwaters would like to continue to expand in the future if the location and partners are the “right fit.”
Sweetwaters is the fourth company slated to open in the former Borders building. Knight’s Steakhouse, Huntington National Bank and Slurping Turtle, a Japanese tapas and noodle house, have also confirmed that they will set up shop in the first floor of the space, leaving one additional vacant spot for a retailer or restaurant.
The University’s School of Information will fill the office space on the second floor, accompanied by PRIME Research. Barracuda Networks, an information technology security firm, leased 45,000 square feet of space at the corner of East Liberty and Maynard Street, which housed Borders’ corporate headquarters in 2012.