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Archive | May, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 63rd & Broadway

30 May

63rd and Broadway

I used to live at 63rd street on the Upper West Side when I first arrived in NYC, yet I never came across this Starbucks before this week. Just a block away from Lincoln Center (and all the theatrics that come with it), this Starbucks is definitely in a prime location. It’s also only two blocks away from Central Park and just north of Columbus Circle.

Location – of course – isn’t everything. This Starbucks happens to have a very accommodating interior as well, with a long, expansive lounge and multiple arrangements of seating. You can grab a seat at the window, sit at the cushioned bench bordering one wall, plant yourself at the communal table in the center of the store, or even find a spot in a little seating nook that is pushed off to one side of the building.

Today – however – I chose to make Central Park my ultimate destination. And can you blame me? Temperatures soared to 90s this afternoon – so far the year’s high. Also, I had the advantage of having this weekday off while most are cooped up in offices under florescent lighting. Because of this, Sheep’s Meadow (the largest and greenest area in the park) was barely occupied. So I was spared the hundreds of frolicking children and fellow sun-bathers. It was just me, the sun, and an iced coffee.

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NYC Starbucks: 58th & 6th

26 May

58th and 6th

The Starbucks on 58th & 6th Avenue is directly south of Central Park. This beauty comes with a burden: the smell of horse sh*t.

It’s simply everywhere in the area. Those adorable horse-drawn carriages are cute and are no-doubt a treat for tourists and romantics alike, but they really have made that whole area smell to no end.

Luckily, we have places like Starbucks to dive into to avoid the stench. Unfortunately, the touristy crowd from the nearby hotels seems to haunt this location. So, I did what any other self-respecting New Yorker would do. I got my coffee to go and took to the park. Of course,  I lingered just enough to take in the scene.

This Starbucks would be a disaster if it were any smaller. It really is hit with a ton of people — both looking to stay and looking to just use the restroom. Luckily it’s long enough to contain the crowd and even seat most of them. There is even additional stools pulled up to the back portion of the barista bar. The lines were long, but I have a feeling this Starbucks sees its biggest crowds on sunny weekend days like today.

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NYC Starbucks: 63rd & Lexington

23 May

63rd and Lexington

I’ve been monitoring the arrival of the Starbucks on the corner of 63rd & Lexington as a botanist would study the budding of a new exotic plant.

The first signs of life appeared when the ever-popular “STARBUCKS COFFEE” lettering appeared over top the vacant shop. Then the windows were covered with construction paper as the inside of this building began to transform from whatever it once held into the most well-known coffee house in the world. I must admit, it took longer than I thought it would. You hear of Starbucks “popping” up here and there, but this was much more of a slow growth. Then, just a few days ago, the doors finally opened for business.

I knew I had to visit this location within a week of its opening. Would it be different than the others? More modern? Technologically advanced? Would there be any kinks to work out? What goes into designing one Starbucks from the next?

Now that I’m here, it’s obvious that no great changes have been initiated for Starbucks’ latest fleet of openings. They’re not trying to reinvent a fully functional wheel here on 63rd and Lex. While the decor is nice (grey wood tones accented with silver chairs and stools) and the whole building seems to glisten with newness, it’s not another generation of Starbucks. Pretty soon, I’d imagine it will look similar to all the others in the city.

The one unique feature that I’ve yet to see at another location is its window seating. Most locations have a short bar attached to the windows accompanied by raised stools. This Starbucks has two padded seating cubbies nearly the size of a mattress. These are raised about 2 ft above the floor and are on either corner of the entrance. I’m sitting cross-legged in one now, and I must admit it’s quiet comfortable and comes with a childlike sense of amusement. I’d love to see more of these at other Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 51st & Broadway

21 May

51st and Broadway

Finding a large Starbucks, equipped with plenty of seating and space to spread out, in Manhattan is rare. But finding one in Midtown, Manhattan can seem like playing the lottery and winning the jackpot. Anyone else go in for the 600 mill last week? This guy did! I bought my first lottery ticket ever, and no numbers matched in any of the positions. It was like I drew the inverse of the winning ticket, and it made it seem like I should owe money instead of win any.

I digress.

This Starbucks on 51st & Broadway is unique not only in its large size, but it also has a faded red awning that surrounds the building instead of the typical green or black ones. Inside, there are two seating areas, two bathrooms, and a barista bar equipped with the Clover — for those of you who like their coffee freshly pressed. While it is not in the heart of Times Square, it is only four blocks north and is still surrounded by theaters and congesting groups of tourists. Lots of hotels also exist in this area just north of the Square.

This location may not be the best in the city. But when it comes to the Theatre District, it’s certainly the best I’ve seen so far.

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NYC Starbucks: Charlton & Hudson

14 May

Starbucks on Charlton and Houston

Today I felt like trekking on down to the West Village. One of my favorite neighborhoods and former residence — briefly, but still.

I walked from Washington Square Park and cut southwest through the trendy portion and touristy areas. Where I ended up was the Starbucks on Hudson Street near Charlton. This portion of the Village is sometimes referred to as the Far West Village, and is a small business enclave within the neighborhood. If I couldn’t tell that by the well-sized business buildings, strategically placed lunch stops,  and rushed footsteps hurrying the opposite direction from where I headed, it was made apparent by this location’s business hours.

It’s closes at 8pm each weeknight and is not open at all on Saturdays and Sundays. I was shocked at first. I mean, this location is large and beautiful. But who would be here to enjoy it on the weekends? Practically no body is here to enjoy it right now. Just like the Starbucks in the Financial District, there’s nobody that wants to stick around after working a full day’s work. If they need a pick-me-up after work, they’ll run in, but staying open past 8pm would be a poor business decision.

So here I thought I’d discovered my new weekend get-away to come and work on my computer in a large, vacant Starbucks, when all I really found was a tease. Still, its size, outlet availability, and the fact that it has two restrooms makes this a better location then most.

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NYC Starbucks: 73rd & Columbus

12 May

Starbucks on 73rd and Columbus

If the neighborhoods of Manhattan were competing in a beauty pageant, I feel the Upper West Side would take it by a landslide. Not only does it border Central Park, but it has some of the prettiest buildings and unique architecture (take note of some of the street art and statuary I captured above). It’s less congested, and you can take your time to walk slowly and window shop without becoming a barrier to the go-getters of NYC.

As a gay man, I often tend to look at the city through a rainbow colored lens. The “gay scene” in Manhattan has been on a steady migration ever since the days of Stonewall (1969). Over the past 40 some odd years, the gays have been slowly working their way up the west side of the island. From the West Village to Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen. You can see the remnants of this slow migration in slug-like trail of stereotypes: The Village houses the “old gays” while Chelsea is for the “muscle daddies” and HK is for “the youngins.”

Always being a forward thinking person, this train of thought has driven me to the conclusion that the Upper West Side will be the next big gay neighborhood within the next 20 years. The proof is in the past and present. As Chelsea bars begin to close and reemerge in HK, the same thing is bound to happen as rent in HK continue to rise. Also since the city was built up — with the northern neighborhoods being newer than the south — there is more room to spread out here.

Building on this stereotype even further, this inevitable migration of gay men with their expendable incomes will certainly lead to more Upper West Side Starbucks. I really hope you can read the jest in my voice here, people!

This Starbucks on 73rd & Columbus is a good example of why I have not grown bored of visiting Starbucks after Starbucks here in Manhattan. Every now and then I stumble upon one that is distinctive enough to keep me pushing forward on my coffee-colored journey.

This location is small but brewing with charm. It’s angled, glass-paneled walls and dark espresso decor attracted me immediately. Then I saw the little seating area separated by a mirrored half-wall and the adorableness factor of this location increased considerably. I believe this to be the first open mirror I’ve seen at any Starbucks so far. Although the restroom line runs long, I still recommend this as a homey and brightly lit Starbucks to spend some time in while on the Upper West Side.

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NYC Starbucks: Houston & West Broadway

11 May

Starbucks on Houston and West Broadway

The past two days we have had the temperature reach the 70s here in the city. Summer is coming.

I arrived here in NYC last August as the summer of 2012 was nearing its end. But I still got to experience enough NYC heat to know how to prepare myself this year. Oh yes — I had my fair share of  sweltering subway rides and fritzy AC units. Before moving here from Florida, a friend who had lived in Manhattan tried to warn me.

“The city can get sooo hot, that when you come in from the street you can still feel the city on your skin.”

“Nah, it can’t be that bad.” I had naively stated. “I’m from Florida!”

I remember his words every time I feel this city seep into my flesh. In the winter you get the harsh cold, and in summer you get the damp, dirty heat. Either way, New Yorkers cannot help but wear the city where ever they go.

Well, obviously that heat is not upon us yet. But I was driven to this SoHo Starbucks on this soggy Saturday afternoon because I need to armor myself with shorts, tank tops, and flip flops to combat the impending summer temperatures. This Starbucks is in a great location on the northwest border of SoHo. It still gets a good crowd, but it’s not overwhelmed like the location on Grand & Broadway. Also it’s directly below Washington Square Park, and the distance between is filled with some pretty decent bars and restaurants that mostly cater to the NYU crowd.

It is — of course — Frappuccino Happy Hour, and although this place has a good amount of lines, grabbing a seat wasn’t impossible. With two separate seating areas and even a little bench area in the hall, this location is ready to serve both those grabbing and going and those looking to stay awhile.

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NYC Starbucks: 57th & 8th SWC

10 May

57thand8th

The Starbucks on 57th & 8th is the emptiest location I’ve seen since beginning this blog. Yes it’s 9pm on a Friday night, but still… there are plenty of Starbucks here in Manhattan that have long lines at this very moment.

This Starbucks’ eerie emptiness is probably due to its vague placement on the NYC grid. It’s right near Columbus Circle but just south of it. It’s a few blocks from the Theatre District but several other Starbucks are much more convenient for the Broadway-goers. And it’s pushed a little too far north to attract any of the crowds from Hell’s Kitchen.

This is all bad for business — but for patrons that need a place to sit and study/read/write/etc, this Starbucks is prime caffeinated real-estate. If only it had a few more power outlets…

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NYC Starbucks: Barclay & Broadway

9 May

BarclayandBroadway

Today my caffeinated journey took me to a new Downtown neighborhood — Civic Center of Manhattan. This small neighborhood is the municipal heart of NYC. It surrounds the beautiful City Hall Park and contains city hall (obviously…), the  courthouses, and the police headquarters. It is also a few blocks north east of the World Trade Center and 911 Memorial.

For being in one of the many hustle and bustle parts of Manhattan, I have to say this Starbucks can handle the crowd just fine. Of course there’s a congestion of low-headed individuals waiting for the 1 restroom near the entrance, but that’s just the NYC norm. Past that, this Starbucks contains a plentiful amount of seating (which is only 3/4 full during business hour rush) and some pretty adorable decor. The music is a blast from the past (70s and 80s), but they seem to have the volume up a tad too much. And there are outlets in the building — they just aren’t conveniently located near the majority of seating.

Another interesting factoid  is that this Starbucks is below the Woolsworth building, which New York University owns part of.  I randomly ran into two classmates of mine while scoping out the place. One insists that this Starbucks might want to look into dusting the security cameras they have placed above the barista bar. Just passing along the message…

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NYC Starbucks: 23rd & 8th

4 May

23rdand8th

Starbucks is having another Frapuccino Happy Hour from May 3rd-12th. This basically gives anyone with a midday sweet tooth the benefit of enjoying any of their blended frapps for 1/2 from 3pm to 5pm. They started doing these a few years ago, and have periodically brought them back because — obviously — we just can’t get enough.

While I never drink their frappuccinos on a day-to-day basis, I always get at least one whenever a happy hour rolls around. SO despite the fact that swimsuit season is right around the corner, here I am sipping down a Java Chip Frapp. I may tell myself that this is for blogging purposes solely or that I’m being fiscally responsible, but honestly this is just an excuse to enjoy an old guilt pleasure. Never tried a frapp? You have until May 12th to sample one for 1/2 off.

While I thoroughly enjoyed my frappuccino, the Starbucks on 23rd and 8th was a little less impressive. A smaller than average location, this Starbucks’ only uniqueness factor is a wall morale across from the barista bar. Other than that, we have ourselves a few small tables and the typical unisex restroom. Usually most Starbucks above a train station are “strictly business” but this one seems to be more bland than most.

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