JONESBORO — At long last, commuters, residents, and people passing through Clayton County can pull over for a doppio, a spinach feta wrap or a mocha Frappucino, no whip.

Clayton County’s first corporate-owned Starbucks opened its doors July 12 at 6564 Tara Blvd., on the northbound side before the on-ramp to I-75. Manager Trent Allen explained it differs from the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble in Morrow. “If it says, ‘We Proudly Serve,’ it’s a licensed store,” he said. Another thing that makes this location different is that it includes a community room and goes out of its way to hire and train residents within the immediate area.

Dark and early at 5:30 a.m., Major Bell of FS360, the builder who built out the location’s ultra-modern interior, was picking up traffic cones from the driveway.

Bell does a lot of work “inside the fence” at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport—the pilots’ lounge, the training center— and said the main thing about this project was “just Starbucks’ quality. They have high standards for what they want in the store, what they want done.”

Venture did the exterior shell, he said, adding that rainy weather meant the project took a while: “Once it was done, we went to work on (the inside).”

The News was first to belly up to the bar, where barista Shaquay Beatty of Hampton cheerfully took the order. Beatty came to Starbucks from Dunkin Donuts. “I saw it and I thought, hmm,” she said. “Quay” rang up the order accurately and with genuine friendliness, not manufactured perkiness.

Barista BeeBee Ross, also from Hampton, is an experienced waitress who has been working since she was 16. She said her mother was with Starbucks for eight years in Chicago. “I felt like this was right up my alley,” she said.

Chyanne “Chy” Alexander, a first-time barista from Jonesboro, said she was excited about opening day. “I think we’ve been waiting long enough. I’m ready for the customers to come.” Although she’s new to the food and beverage business, Alexander said, “I wanted to try something new, and I love it.”

Shift supervisor Marshinae Derrico, also from Jonesboro, started a month ago as a management trainee. For her, the draw was the company’s program allowing her to earn a first bachelor’s degree. As a freelance writer, Derrico said, “I wanted to get my degree and Starbucks is going to let me do it. It’s a really good company — I’ve worked for a lot of companies.” Because she writes about people’s personal histories, Derrico said, “That’s why I like meeting people from the community and hearing their stories. We’re really more the same than we are different. All we’ve got to do is just hear it.”

The first “real” customer of the day was Esbeyba Aguilar, who is the co-owner of the new Chevron set to open late next week on Ash Street in Forest Park. “It’s great— I don’t have to drive that long and I’ll be here every morning,” she said. “I’m glad that Clayton County is opening more businesses. We need more nice businesses.”

First through the drive-thru was Kali Arnold, who lives in Old Fourth Ward and was in Clayton County to get her hair done. “I was so happy because I was looking on the app and when I saw it, I said, ‘Oh my God, Starbucks!’ I literally made a U-turn and came around.”

Limo driver John Segun Odutola, stirring sugar into his coffee, enthused, “You’re going to see me every day. I live in the Jonesboro-Lovejoy area. I always go through Fayetteville because they have Starbucks. I’m not going to Fayetteville anymore! I’m done with Fayetteville.”

With that, Odutola hit the road, caffeine in hand.

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