Riverhead Town is getting a second Starbucks.
But instead of being buried hundreds of yards in the armpit of Tanger 2, as the existing one is, it will be right along Route 58.
And, it will offer drive-through service.
The Riverhead Town Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a town code interpretation that will allow the proposed location to have a drive-through window, so people can get coffee without getting out of their cars.
The new Starbucks is planned for the Saber Riverhead shopping center, just east of River-head Raceway. The 122,000-square-foot shopping center, which is currently under construction, will also include a Dick’s Sporting Goods, Christmas Tree Shops, ALDI discount supermarket, Five Below store, Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, according to the applicant, Martin Berger.
The complex received site plan approval from the town Planning Board in October, and the Town Board granted an excavating permit earlier this year. Excavation work has commenced.
“Starbucks’ new prototype is to have drive-through windows,” said Charles Cuddy, the applicant’s attorney. The proposed drive-through window will not exit onto Route 58, but will instead exit within the shopping center parking lot, he said.
The question before the ZBA last Thursday was whether a drive-through window was a use that is “customarily incidental” to a Starbucks restaurant in the Business Center zone in which the 13-acre Saber Riverhead project is located.
The application refers to Starbucks, which sells food and coffee, as a restaurant, although both restaurants and cafes are permitted uses in the BC zone. The BC zone also specifies drive-through windows for banks and pharmacies as permitted accessory uses.
Mr. Cuddy came to last Thursday’s ZBA meeting armed with a three-page memo and three Starbucks’ representatives to support his argument that a drive-through window should be considered accessory to a Starbucks restaurant. He said there are some zones in the town code that specifically prohibit drive-through windows, such as in downtown Riverhead, but that the BC zone is not one of them.
But Mr. Cuddy didn’t even need to make his argument.
“We really don’t have any issues with this,” ZBA chairman Fred McLaughlin said as Mr. Cuddy was about to have a Starbucks’ representative testify.
Scott DiSimone, the ZBA’s attorney, agreed.
“Fifteen years ago, the question was, similarly, was a convenience store an accessory use to a gas station?” Mr. DiSimone said. “That’s now become commonplace. I would say that’s a similar situation with Starbucks and other similar types of businesses in that use [drive-through windows]. I believe it to be a customary, incidental accessory use.”
The ZBA unanimously approved the code interpretation.