Austin’s first-ever Starbucks prepares to brew its last cup of coffee

Austin’s first-ever Starbucks prepares to brew its last cup of coffee

Downtown Austin Sixth Street and Congress Avenue
Starbucks at Sixth and Congress may not have been a local business, but it had a lot of local ties.  dszc/Getty Images

Austin’s very first Starbucks coffee shop, situated at the most prominent downtown intersection, is closing next month.

After 27 years in business, the Starbucks store at 600 Congress Ave. is scheduled to shut down August 21, the coffeehouse company confirms. 

The shop occupies a high-profile corner of Sixth Street and Congress Avenue, considered the heart of downtown Austin. For many businesspeople, the store has been a go-to downtown meeting spot. 

Downtown workers and visitors were frequently entertained by the colorful presence outside that store of the bearded, usually homeless, cross-dressing, often scantily clad legend Leslie Cochran, who died in 2012 at age 60.

The coffee company offers this explanation for the store’s impending closure: “As part of Starbucks’ standard course of business, we continually review and evaluate our locations to ensure a healthy store portfolio.”

Earlier this month, Starbucks announced it was shutting down 16 stores in the U.S., but the Sixth and Congress store didn’t appear on the list.

Not only is Austin losing its first Starbucks store, it’s losing a connection to one of actress Sandra Bullock’s best-known movies, Miss Congeniality.

The comedy, released in 2000, follows Bullock’s FBI-agent character as she goes undercover at a beauty pageant to foil a terrorist threat. One of the scenes shows the character, Gracie Hart, placing a large order at a Starbucks store in what’s supposed to be New York City. The scene was actually filmed at Starbucks’ Sixth and Congress shop.

Played for full comedic effect, Bullock’s character “drives through the city with her sirens on just to get to Starbucks and uses her FBI status to get to the front of the line,” according to Diply.com.

At the conclusion of her order, the FBI agent makes one last request: She wants a Starbucks compilation CD. (Many of you may be too young to remember those ubiquitous CDs).

Rising rents in downtown Austin may have driven Starbucks’ decision to shutter the 600 Congress store. On average, rental space in downtown office buildings goes for $66 per square foot, according to the Squarefoot rental platform. That’s well above the rental rate Starbucks paid back in 1995 when it opened the store. The shop is on the bottom floor of the One American Center office tower.

The closest Starbucks stores that will remain open are at 301 W. Third St. (near City Hall) and 907 W. Fifth St. (near Whole Foods Market). Starbucks previously shuttered its store at 1001 Congress Ave. (near the state Capitol).