Earlier this month, a buzz began brewing around Kinston after international coffee chain Starbucks posted a job opening for a store manager in Kinston on its website.
That posting was still up Friday afternoon and is also accessible on other job sites like LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
Screenshots of that job posting – originally made on Monday April 16 – spread like wildfire across multiple Facebook pages of Kinston and Lenoir County residents. One of the screenshots, posted by Kinston native Chris Suggs, has been shared 139 times.
Information about the potential new store has been hard to come by since that posting went online.
Kinston City Manager Tony Sears said the city has been working on bringing the chain to town since 2017.
“It’s our understanding that Starbucks is coming, it’s our understanding that they have or are securing a lease for the old RadioShack,” Sears said. “Our planning director Adam Short has been working in conjunction with Retail Strategies for the recruitment of Starbucks.”
Retail Strategies is an economic and business development company that contracts with municipalities to bring new businesses to those cities.
The contract between the city and the company has expired, though a representative of Retail Strategies said they have continued to work on the Starbucks project despite that expiration.
As is often the case with a new business or development, nothing is official until its official. To his knowledge, Sears said no lease has been signed on the proposed location yet. Short told The Free Press that no planning or remodeling documents have been filed with the city.
According to the Lenoir County Geographic Information System that building is owned by BJE Properties in Goldsboro. No one from that agency could be located for comment.
If opened Starbucks would be the latest addition in a long line of developments in the quarter-mile stretch between U.S. 70 and U.S. 258 over the last few years.
“Starbucks is one of those iconic stores that is typically an indicator of economic health. You couple that with the opening of the hotel, Lidl, Cook Out and now Starbucks, it’s beginning to show you that Kinston is growing on a retail side,” Sears said.
Since 2015 the only dedicated coffee shop in Kinston has been the Middle Grounds Coffeehouse, 212 N. Herritage St.
Owner Jessy Dawson told The Free Press that her initial reaction to hearing about a Kinston Starbucks was to be concerned, though she’s since walked that back.
“I felt like as soon as I got some years underneath me (Starbucks) would come in and take away all my business and I was worried about my growing family,” she said. “But there’s Applebee’s, there’s Outback (Steakhouse) and then there’s The Boiler Room and Chef and the Farmer. People look for what they want. People will find me. I think that there might be enough room for me and Starbucks here, but this is home.”
Calls to the Starbucks corporate press service were not returned, though an email from the company reads "Unfortunately, we have no information to share about a potential location in Kinston, NC at this time."
Dustin George can be reached at 252-559-1077 or Dustin.George@Kinston.com.