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Coffee House Smackdown: Lucky's vs. Starbucks

Submitted 9 months ago
Created by
Anita Hamalainen

We have two new coffee shops in Lebanon: Lucky's on the Green and Starbucks on Rt. 12A in West Leb. I've been hearing interior design buzz about Lucky's, so I stopped by last week to see it for myself. Realizing there was an interesting comparison to make, I also visited the new Starbucks.

A Tale of Two Coffee Shops.

And the two interiors couldn't be more different. I had the opportunity to speak with Deb Shinnlinger, the proprietor (and designer) of Lucky's. She collaborated with the building owner, Ledgeworks developer and new owner of the Polka Dot Restaurant, Mike Davidson, to convert the old gas station into an unbelievably hip coffee shop. One major element to the project was replacing the existing garage doors, though very cool, were actually TOO cool. To increase the building's energy efficiency, the old doors were replaced with more insulated garage doors. They weren't cheap, but from my interior designer's point of view, the investment was aesthetically priceless. 

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As I asked Deb about her design process, her eyes lit up as she excitedly told me about the beautiful southwestern mural she commissioned from a friend and artist in Boston. Spending her days in a coffee shop, Deb wanted something lovely to look at and that would remind her of time spent out west.

Even though we're spoiled by our beautiful New England landscape, it's a treat to see the Southwest, too.

Deb also splurged on a bright orange powder-coating on the espresso machine, matching it to the chairs. "How often do you get to do that?", she happily exclaimed.

Deb, in the hat, connected with the community via social media and wrapped the bar with donated license plates from all 50 states.

Deb wanted to use the gas station history of the building as design inspiration, but without taking it too far. The prominently hung Gulf sign led to many of the coffee shop's colors, and the self-serve cream and sugar station continues the gas station motif.

How do you take your coffee?

The entry foyer is another inviting space with a Southwestern-style textile wall hanging and complementary orange and red seating.

STOP, and enjoy your coffee.

The interior design of Lucky's is absolutely joyful. Deb obviously took great pleasure putting together the coffee shop with great attention to every detail. As a lover of interesting spaces and good coffee, it was a delight to visit. I next made my way to Starbucks, ironically next to an Aspen Dental. Clever cross promotion.

It's... fine.

Lest I develop a reputation as a Negative Nellie (with my apologies to all the Nellies out there), I won't belabor my criticisms. My recent post about the ugliest building in WRJ has caused enough of a stir. The new Starbucks in West Leb is nice enough. Very sleek, modern, and professionally designed. But I wouldn't call it joyful or very inspiring. A designer in a corporate office somewhere did a decent job, ticking all the boxes and meeting all the various zoning codes. However, to make my design comparison of the two interiors as succinct as possible, let me highlight the mural at Starbucks in contrast to the huge, colorful Southwestern landscape painting at Lucky's.

No really, it's... fine.

I typically reserve trips to coffee shops as a special treat. So if I'm going to spend money on takeout coffee, isn't it more fun for the outing to be as exciting for the eyes as for the taste buds? Welcome to Lebanon, Lucky's, I'll be back soon!

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