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Archive | July, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 9th & 2nd

31 Jul

9th and 2nd Starbucks

Wow, it’s early.

This may be the earliest I’ve visited a Starbucks for this blog. But there’s something motivating about waking up at sunrise and starting the day with coffee and writing before work. No, I don’t do this often; the real reason I’m up this early is that I have Beyonce tickets tonight and there just isn’t enough hours in the day.

For the last Starbucks in July, I’m paying a visit to the East Village. On 9th and 2nd Avenue, there is a sizable Starbucks, just north of St Marks Place. This Starbucks has what most don’t — an outdoor seating area. No, it’s not fully secluded from passersby like the Starbucks in Yorkville ,but it does have a 3-foot high metal gate separating you from the sidewalk crowd. It even has a large awning that extends from the side of the building.

Inside, this Starbucks has exposed brick pillars and walls that really give it the NYC vibe. There is plenty of seating (especially at the crack of dawn), and it’s spaced enough for it not to get too crowded.

All in all, I’m a sucker for a Starbucks with an outdoor area, but I’d have to come back to see what the crowd is like midday.

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NYC Starbucks: 117th & Pleasant (Target)

30 Jul

117th and Pleasant Starbucks

As the month wraps up, I’m continuing my trend of Starbucks stuffed into place, and everyone’s who’s ever visited a Target store knows how convenient it is to see smell their favorite coffee brand the moment they walk in.

There is actually only one Target on the island of Manhattan, and although this retail superstore is not nearly as popular in the city, it still has a special place in my heart. Without Target, I would never have had the courage to move to NYC. I actually worked for the company as a manager (or Team Leader, in Target-speak) for five years, and they were willing to transfer me up to one of their Brooklyn locations when I got accepted to New York University. Throughout my undergrad, I built my leadership skills within the red wall of Target; I’ve made several great friends; I learned work-ethic and life lessons; and I would never have met my current boyfriend if I had never adorned the red & khaki.

Another thing I got from working at Target — obviously — was an addiction to Starbucks coffee. Although I never worked at this Target, located on 117th and Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem, just walking in here brings back so many memories of my days with the company. I never did work in any of the licensed Starbucks that are within Target stores, but I would frequent them enough to get to know all the barista team members.

The Starbucks inside this Target actually has a great deal of space to itself. There are plenty of small and large tables to sit at, and not surprisingly, at least half of them are occupied by guests with loaded shopping carts. Of course it’s brighter than most Starbucks (fluorescent lights and all), and due to frequent guest traffic, tends to get dirtier a little more quickly.

All in all, it’s not the Starbucks you want to meet a friend for coffee at or hold a study group, but it sure is convenient if you need to get some shopping done.

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NYC Starbucks: 33rd & 6th (Manhattan Mall)

29 Jul

33rd and 6th Starbucks

New York City is known for some of the best shopping opportunities in the country. However, one thing NYC is not known for is its malls. After all, this isn’t Minnesota. Where other cities rely on malls to bring the people and retail chains together, here in Manhattan, clothing stores and specialty shops can thrive without the confines of a shopping mall.

However, there is at least one mall on the island of Manhattan that I’ve stumbled upon, and that mall, of  course, happens to have a Starbucks in it.

The Manhattan Mall is just south of Herald Square and rests in the shadow of the gigantic Macy’s. It consists of your typical, run of the mill mall stores like Victoria’s Secret, JC Penney’s, Express and Aeropostale, but is lacking the typical mall food court. The mall is typically flooded with Midtown tourists and a younger crowd of high school mall-rats with nothing better to do — oh the memories!

The Starbucks is located on the first floor near the entrances on both 33rd and 6th Avenue. Unlike some mall Starbucks that I’ve seen in my day, this one doesn’t have a seating area or separate lobby at all. It was literally built directly on top of the mall tile below the escalator to the second floor. It almost looks like a pop-up Starbucks — like they could clear out at any moment without a trace of ever being there.

I would say I’d only recommend this Starbucks to someone up for some serious mall shopping, but then I really wouldn’t recommend coming to Manhattan to shop at a mall.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & 9th

26 Jul

42nd and 9th Starbucks

I’ve passed by the Starbucks on 42nd and 9th avenue several times, and although never entering, I knew what I would most likely rate this Starbucks months ago. That’s because its exterior wall is nothing but paneled glass. Each time I passed, I could see exactly what was going on inside.

Essentially, this Starbucks is a small space with crowded tables, a consistent crowd and little room for much else. I could even tell there was no restroom just by a passing glance. Although it’s well enough removed from Time Square to not have a giant crowd shuffling by outside, it still attracts enough of a crowd. It’s close to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and just north of the traffic nightmare known as Hellsea.

I’m not saying grabbing a seat here would be impossible. Just prepare to wait a while — or arrive early. This bad boy opens up at 6am, Monday-Friday.

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NYC Starbucks: 36th & Madison

24 Jul

36th and Madison Starbucks

Today you get to hear about one of my Starbucks pet-peeves that I’ve yet to discuss. It’s something so little that I really have no idea why it even bothers me at all. So before you label this with the infamous FirstWorldProblems hashtag, just know I’m aware of of the triviality of this pet-peeve. But I just can’t help it…

I hate it when they run out of regular lids and give me a frappuccino lid when I have an iced drink that doesn’t require one (pictured above). I think it’s because the drink seems less protected, and for a clumsy person like myself, the lid leads to a greater chance of spillage on my part. Or possibly I just don’t get how a cafe can run out of lids in the first place.

Okay — there you have it. I’ve said what I had to say about that.

The Starbucks on 36th and Madison has a lot going for it despite the fact that it gave me a frappuccino lid on an iced latte. Its seating area is larger than most, and better yet, it is lightly occupied with patrons. It is designed with arches instead of corners, so the seating area almost looks like a semi-circle or a curving road. Maple wood is used for throughout instead of the typical espresso tint, and there is a large lightly colored mural on the long wall opposite the door.

Ironically, when I first spotted this Starbucks on Monday it was free of exterior construction, but now the entire outside on both sides is covered by the hideous metal bars. It’s funny, because I only ever see these things pop up, but rarely notice one taken down. Perhaps the entire city will soon be covered in them.

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NYC Starbucks: Worth & Lafayette

23 Jul

Worth and Lafayette Starbucks

I’m starting to appreciate the neighborhoods in Lower Manhattan the more I visit them. Not only are they older than the upper part of the island and rich with history, but they also have a more pleasing aesthetic Perhaps it’s the fact that they don’t obey the repetitive Manhattan grid of numbered streets and avenues. Down here streets run diagonal or even in circles, and they actually have names that have nothing to do with their placement. Sure it’s not logical or organized, but this lack-of-symmetry  allows for a more substantial presence for each of these beautiful buildings.

Today, I walked south from 14th street, past Astor Place, through SoHo and Chinatown (passing countless Starbucks on my way) until my feet had had enough and I came across a Starbucks that I had yet to venture into. The Starbucks I found was on the corner of Worth and Lafayette in an area of Civic Center called Foley Square. The Department of Health and the New York Supreme Court are both nearby, and the though the windows of the Starbucks you get a lovely view of Thomas Pain Park.

Inside the Starbucks, there is a small seating nook that is well-enough removed from the barista bar and line to still be considered nice and relaxing. It gets plenty of natural light and has a just enough seating to satisfy the few of us that actually want to stay and sit a while. Most people, however, seems to want to get their drinks to go. The line was consistently backed up to the entrance, and although the baristas kept it moving, there was always just as much people entering as there was leaving.

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NYC Starbucks: 33rd & 7th (Penn Station)

22 Jul

33rd an 7th Starbucks

I just couldn’t stay away.

After visiting one of the two Starbucks inside of Penn Station, I knew I had to come back and check out the other one. So I decided to take my Treat Receipt from this morning back to Midtown. This Starbucks is in the northeast corner of Penn Station — at least as far as I can tell, it is — close to the 7th avenue entrance and Madison Square Garden.

Before I found this Starbucks, I stumbled upon three separate Dunkin Donuts and dozens of other well known chains that are taking advantage of the masses that venture into the station. I came here directly after work, and the 5 o’clock traffic was in full bloom. Upstairs, where the incoming trains are posted, the crowds just pile in and stand, but down near the tracks where these Starbucks are, the crowds are like a stampede of suits and suitcases.

The Starbucks itself does a pretty good job at differentiating itself from the one down the way. It has distinctive decor, different seating styles and a much poorer WiFi connection. Also worth noting, is that this one has its power outlets covered up while the other one does not. Other than that, the lines and crowds are fairly equal, and they are about the same size.

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NYC Starbucks: 33rd & 8th (Penn Station)

21 Jul

33rd and 8th Starbucks

I’ve decided to continue my July theme of Starbucks within renowned NYC landmarks. Today my journey takes me to one of the two Starbucks inside of Pennsylvania Station (aka Penn Station).

Although deep within Penn Station near the Long Island Railroad departure tracks, this Starbucks’ closest cross street is 33rd and 8th avenue. Penn Station takes up an entire city block from 31st to 33rd between 7th and 8th avenues; and although it is not as big as Grand Central Terminal — and not nearly as nice to look at — it still burdens quite the crowd (twice that of GCT). In fact — talks have long been in the works about how to redesign, restructure or simply relocate either Penn Station or Madison Square Garden to ease the nightmarish crowds. Although, as far as I know, nothing has been decided on.

Besides, this building is over 100 years old, so it’s got deep roots. Above you can see some black and white photography from the early 1900s that are hanging on the walls of this Starbucks.

Speaking of — after spending the weekend with family in small-town New Jersey (the reason I’m in Penn Station in the first place), it was great to climb up out from the train tracks and lay eyes on that familiar green shrouded siren right here in the station. This Starbucks may not be the easiest to get to for the average New Yorker, but I’ sure it has been a godsend to many a tired traveler.

This is a fully functional Starbucks — with distinct floor tiles, lighting, music and decor. All it’s lacking is a restroom. However, that’s not much of a flaw, since most patrons seem to take their coffee to go. Yet, the wooden benches used for seating certainly aren’t vacant –not when they have built in outlets for power-starved iPhone addicts and WiFi for those waiting on a train.

All in all, if you were to ignore the fast moving crowds with luggage outside the entrance, this would appear to be your average NYC Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 56th & 6th

19 Jul

56th and 6th Starbucks

I feel bad for the Starbucks on 56th and 6th. Apparently it is the exact perfect distance between Central Park and all the other tourist attractions on 6th avenue to make it the ultimate tourist trap.

It’s not too small and it doesn’t really lack for seating, but — oh my — it is crowded. This is the kind of Starbucks that doesn’t get a moment of rest from sun rise to well after sun sets. Luckily there are two doors to keep the flow moving and no restroom so that there aren’t any additional crowds. That’s actually the first time that I’ve found a lack of a restroom to benefit a Starbucks, but really, this one just couldn’t support one.

I’d say grab a drink to go, unless you’re lucky enough to find a seat.

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NYC Starbucks: Reade & Broadway

18 Jul

Reade and Broadway Starbucks

Anyone who’s ever visited New York City knows Duane Reade. The city practically runs on this hybrid pharmacy and convenience store. With over 150 locations in NYC, you see almost as many Duane Reades as you do Starbucks. And today I happen to be sitting at the Starbucks in Lower Manhattan between Duane street and Reade street. My first thought: Oh, now the name makes sense!

Duane Reade has been around since the  60s and is unique to New York — even though it was recently purchased by Walgreens. The original Duane Reade and its warehouse started right here on this street corner on the borders of Civic Center and TriBeCa. The rest is history.

So there’s your brief history of NYC’s most frequented convenience store — now its most frequented coffee house.

The Starbucks on Reade and Broadway isn’t the cleanest. It isn’t the biggest. And it’s AC doesn’t even seem to run as well as other locations. But there is something about this Starbucks that is uniquely New York. Actually, the fact that it’s small, dirty and old-looking is probably why it’s so charming. The high ceilings, tall windows with paint chipping off the panes, and narrow passageways make this Starbucks feel like home. Home for a New Yorker, that is. Continue reading

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