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Staff photo by Mike Pare / Work is underway on a Peet's Coffee drive-through near downtown Chattanooga's Westin hotel.

Peet's Coffee in downtown Chattanooga plans to open the company's only standalone, drive-through location in the country early next year.

The company and DeFoor Brothers development group, which is Peet's licensed partner in Chattanooga, plans to convert a former bank drive-through at M.L. King Boulevard and Pine Street, across from the Westin hotel, according to officials.

Work has begun remaking the former Pinnacle Bank drive-through, with the new Peet's location to be up and running in February or March, said Amanda Hartley, who is the manager of the Peet's cafe nearby on Chestnut Street.

She said the existing Peet's cafe on Chestnut in the middle of downtown's West Village will remain open.

Hartley cited the popularity of drive-through sites amid the coronavirus pandemic as a reason for the added unit.

"I think right now with the unprecedented times and stuff, it's easily accessible," she said.

Hartley said plans call for the site to also hold a walk-up window on one side. The new site will add a few more employees, the store manager said.

According to DeFoor Brothers, which developed the Westin hotel and more recently the Indigo hotel nearby, Peet's understands that standalone drive-throughs need to be a larger part of the brand. While the company has drive-throughs attached to its cafes, Peet's and DeFoor Brothers liked the location at the high-profile corner for the standalone site, an official said.

Dunkin' franchisee Bluemont Group recently opened its first standalone drive-through in the area with a unit next door to WDEF-TV at 3300 Broad St.

Margo Hughes, Knoxville-based Bluemont's marketing director, said last year that the drive-through-only concept is the franchisee's first among 10 units in Chattanooga and more than 40 in its network. Bluemont's footprint includes Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville and, soon, Birmingham, she said.

"It's our first in the whole network," Hughes said.

On Chattanooga's North Shore, "be caffeinated" is including a drive-through at a new location at the corner of Kent and Velma streets.

Scooter's Coffee announced in July that a franchisee has signed a deal to bring 10 stores of Nebraska-based Scooter's to the Chattanooga area.

Starbucks also continues to build new locations locally, including a cafe with drive-through under construction at Signal Mountain and Mountain Creek roads.

Additionally on Signal Mountain Road, Sunnyside Cup owner Melody Kobernik remade a former cash advance business building into a drive-through near Walmart.

Hartley said the new Peet's drive-through will help customers get their coffee quickly. She said business at Peet's Chestnut Street cafe is "a little bit less" than last year.

"We're about the same, holding steady," Hartley said.

The Pinnacle Bank drive-through has moved to 1350 Broad St.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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