On Sunday, March 14, 2021, loyal customers bid farewell to Peet’s Coffee in Wellesley. Voted the “Best Coffee Shop in Wellesley” on TripAdvisor, it has been a common meeting place for students and town residents since the early 2000s. Soon, the former Peet’s space will be replaced by a Chase Bank branch, complete with a sitting area and ATMs. While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on restaurants nationwide, former Starbucks employee Caroline Francois ’23 said that customer noncompliance with mask mandates may also have taken a toll on the Peet’s employees.
“I’m wearing a mask for six-hour shifts and some people can’t put one on just to come inside for a minute,” Francois said.
While students can still visit Starbucks in Wellesley Square for their caffeine fix, Bethany Pasko ’23 worries about the effect of the Peet’s closure on student employment opportunities.
“Students worked at Peet’s and The Gap, which also recently closed, and since students probably won’t be working at Chase, I think it’s concerning,” Pasko said.
Maddie Moon ’23, who worked at Peet’s since July 2019, cited concerns about students’ ability to find inexpensive food in the town of Wellesley after the recent closures of Peet’s, Breugger’s Bagels and Dunkin Donuts.
“There really aren’t many inexpensive places now, Natick is less expensive but it’s really hard to access if you don’t have a car,” Moon said.
These comments are especially relevant after concerns this year about students’ access to affordable groceries given the tight restrictions on travel off-campus due to COVID-19.
Beyond employment opportunities and accessibility, students also raised concerns about changes in the town of Wellesley’s atmosphere following the closures.
“Wellesley seems like it is straying away from the ‘college town’ vibe,” Pasko said.
Francois agreed that establishments for casual socializing are important not just for college students.
“The high school students in Wellesley also benefit from places like Peet’s and Starbucks,” Francois said.
Pasko also wonders if, beyond student employment, the closure of Peet’s in March and Dunkin Donuts in 2019 will affect the number of students leaving campus.
“Maybe there will always be a loyal Starbucks crowd, but I think some people will leave campus less because there aren’t as many places for a quick stop,” Pasko said.
The plans for the new Wellesley Chase Bank branch include changes to the facade of the current Peet’s and plans for multiple ATMs, offices, as well as a lounge space inside the branch.