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BARBOURSVILLE — In a move that is puzzling to Huntington Mall officials, Starbucks says it’s closing mall locations in favor of stand-alone units with drive-thru windows.

“It really doesn’t make sense to us since the Starbucks location here at the mall was doing so well and had a large amount of foot traffic,” said Joe Bell, director of communications for the Cafaro Company, which owns the Huntington Mall. “We were told this is a corporate decision and something they are doing nationwide.”

Last year, the Seattle-based coffee giant’s plans to adapt to a post-coronavirus world by having a greater percentage of its orders at drive-thru windows and takeout were reported.

Starbucks has not released any information about its location in the Charleston Town Center Mall or given a list of mall store closings in the future, but in a letter to customers in May of last year CEO Kevin Johnson said the company planned to accelerate a shift toward more drive-thru locations even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our digital leadership and ability to transform lower-performing locations and formats to successful new store formats are unique strengths we will lean into in the coming months,” Johnson wrote in the letter. “The plans we had for this broader store transformation over a three- to five-year period will now occur over the next 12 to 18 months.”

The company also plans to add more mobile order pickup and drive-thru stores with expanded indoor seating, such as the new stand-alone location that is currently under construction in Teays Valley in the old Wendy’s location, just off Interstate 64 at Exit 39. No date has been announced for the opening, but the work both inside and out of the location appears to be nearly complete.

“By blending traditional Starbucks stores in dense markets with these new Starbucks pickup stores optimized for the mobile order occasion, we not only improve the customer experience for those who want to sit in our store and enjoy their beverage but also create a great experience for those customers who want a convenient way to pick up their beverage on-the-go,” Johnson wrote.

Starbucks reported that about 80% of its orders were for takeout, and Johnson said as mobile orders increased, the chain has periodically run into challenges serving both groups of customers. Stand-alone pickup stores and drive-thru locations are viewed as important solutions, according to Johnson.

In his letter, Johnson said, “the look and feel of many stores will change” coming out of the pandemic.

Bell said the move opens up a great opportunity for a first-class coffee shop at the Huntington Mall.

“With the Cabell County Schools career and technical center coming to the old Sears location soon, the foot traffic will increase even more,” Bell said. “I think this is a lucrative opportunity for someone.”

The Starbucks location at the mall offers 996 square feet of space, Bell said.

Anyone interested in the space can contact the mall offices at 304-733-0492.

Bell says Joe Muggs inside Books-A-Million at the mall offers espresso, coffee, tea and seasonal drink and food options. He added that other restaurants and businesses in the food court offer coffee as well.

New home for Little Caesars Pizza in Ironton

Little Caesars Pizza announced the opening of the new home in Ironton after 33 years at the same location.

The new location opened Tuesday at 211 S. 9th St., according to Vicki Dunn-Marshall, owner VDM Management Group, which owns the restaurant.

“Over 30 years in our Ironton community and we are so thankful for the support of our neighbors, residents, other businesses,” Dunn-Marshall said. “We are grateful to be a part of the community and to continue to invest in the area.”

Dunn-Marshall says the new location will offer major convenience upgrades.

“The location is close to the off ramp of (U.S.) 52 and will have a larger drive-thru and more parking,” she said. “In the increased concerns for social distancing, besides Hot-N-Ready pizza, Little Caesars offers online ordering — customers can use the Pizza Portal for a no-contact lobby experience, pickup their online order in the drive thru or use delivery.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place Tuesday to celebrate the move.

“This was a great day for Ironton and the surrounding area,” said Sabrina Donahue-Moore, marketing director for VDM Management Group. “This location has a great look with the latest Little Caesars design, a great Little Caesars team and will be more convenient for our customers. We can’t wait to serve our customers. Stop by soon, check out our new place and grab lunch or dinner.”

New family medical center opens in Ironton

The Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organizations’ Family Medical Centers announced the opening of a new family medical center last week.

Nancy’s Place, located at 115 N. 3rd St. adjacent to the CAO’s One Stop facility in Ironton, will provide family practice, complete women’s health services, behavioral health and pediatrics, officials said.

Nancy’s Place occupies half of what used to be known as the “Bellefonte Building” directly behind Wendy’s in Ironton.

Officials said the facility has been beautifully reconstructed and renovated and is currently accepting new patients.

Nancy’s Place was named after Family Medical Centers’ director of clinical services, Nancy Lewis. Lewis, one of the first pediatric nurse practitioners in the state, has been on the FMC team for 45 years.

Dr. Pearl Hennan Hain, who came to FMC after the closing of Our Lady of Bellefonte at Russell, Kentucky, and who has been providing services at the organization’s South Point, Ohio, location, will provide pediatric services at the new facility.

Dr. Brittany Kiser, currently working at the Ironton campus, will provide family and women’s health services.

Heather Mayville, certified nurse midwife with St. Mary’s Medical Center, will move from the One Stop Family Medical Center to assist with women’s health.

Janie Carmon will provide counseling services in the pediatric wing.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 740-302-1777.

Fred Pace is the business reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Send your business news and photos to fpace@hdmediallc.com. You can also call 304-526-2729. Follow him at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

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