Two coffee stands parked outside USC’s Keck Hospital for more than 20 years are slated to close to make way for a new Starbucks location.
The coffee carts, owned by Nickii Park, are the only source of income for the business owner. Since the university decided not to renew her contract, the future of the business remains uncertain, according to the Daily Trojan, which first reported the news.
University officials notified Park in February 2022 that it would not renew its agreement with her. She received her official termination letter in July, the publication reported.
The business was initially slated to close in September but Park received an extension to continue operations until sometime in October.
“It was super ultra impacting my life,” Park told the Daily Trojan. “I was in shock, and I couldn’t eat or sleep.”
The news also came as a surprise to students, who have since started a petition urging school officials to reverse the decision.
The online petition currently has 326 signatures, and more than 1,000 people signed another petition Park had on her cart for two days before university officials told the her to take it down, according to the publication.
The new Starbucks location will be operated by USC Hospitality and will be the second location on the Health Sciences Campus.
USC Keck School of Medicine provided this statement to KTLA:
“In February 2022, Keck Medicine notified the current business operator that they had 16 months to transition their business and vacate the premises. Keck Medicine has also extended the deadline from June 2023 to Oct. 31, 2023 at Ms. Park’s request.
USC is committed to identifying a community-based and Eastside small business vendor to continue to serve patients, family, and members of our community.
By transitioning food vendors at Keck Medical Center of USC, we can offer expanded hours of operation, more food options, mobile ordering and additional seating to meet the needs of our patients, family members and caregivers at our hospital that is always in operation.
This new café will provide more employment opportunities within our local community.
Keck Medicine of USC is committed to compassionate, innovative and quality care and to serve the needs of our patients, family members and staff.”USC Statement
USC denies that Park is the owner of the small coffee business.