Archive | August, 2013

NYC Starbucks: 24th & Lexington

26 Aug

24th and Lexington Starbucks

Somewhere between Kips Bay, NoMad, Rose Hill and Gramercy exists the stylish Starbucks on 24th and Lexington.

Although currently covered up with construction piping, once inside, you’ll find this Starbucks has a certain aesthetic that’s both bright and clean. No, it’s not a big Starbucks. Nor is it in the most convenient location. But it was well thought-out and executed.

This Starbucks has two items that are unique to this location — from what I have seen so far, anyway. First is this split level communal table made out of sanded maple wood. It almost looks like a carpenter’s workstation and can sit 8-10 patrons easily. I’d also like to draw attention to the mural you see pictured above. It’s totally NYC in the fall, which is very appropriate since summer is slipping away.

Speaking of — I’m going to go out and enjoy this warm weather while I still have time.

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NYC Starbucks: 81st & 2nd

23 Aug

81st and 2nd Starbucks

Just when I thought the Upper West Side had a leg up on the Upper East Side — where Starbucks are concerned, that is — I discover the Starbucks on 81st and 2nd.

This Starbucks is in the thick of Yorkville and has more character than any I can remember visiting. The building has obviously gone through some reconstructions throughout the years, and I’m very happy with the end result. The first two floors belong to Starbucks. They’ve expanded the ground floor with a glassed in patio, filled the second floor with seating and kept all the exposed bricks. The sealed in fireplace is still visible, and you can see where the staircase used to climb to the 3rd floor. I’m assuming there are still apartments above this Starbucks — and I’m hoping they’re for rent!

This is definitely a Starbucks that I could spend endless hours in. It would be my “go-to” if it weren’t so far away.

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NYC Starbucks: 56th & 5th (Trump Tower)

22 Aug

56th and 5th Starbucks

There are two iconic NYC landmarks on the corner of 56th and 5th Avenue: Trump Tower and the Abercrombie & Fitch store. One you can see from far, far away, the other you can smell. It’s not necessarily a bad smell — but I guess that depends on how well your tolerance to strong, cheap cologne is. But that’s not what brought me to this area of Midtown today.

Today, I decided to pay a visit to the Trump Tower to see what kind of condition I would find the Starbucks located inside. Usually most Starbucks located inside another building (office, retailer, what-have-you…) are nothing to write home about, but Trump did this one justice.

No — I wouldn’t recommend coming here to spend some quality time with friends, study or try to read anything. But this Starbucks is simply nice to observe while in the city. As you walk into Trump Tower, you immediately spot the Starbucks located on a small 2nd-floor bridge the overlooks the entranceway. It’s pretty, to say the least.

Unfortunately, once I arrived up to the Starbucks’ level, I saw the mob scene that was surrounding the barista bar. I couldn’t figure out where the line started and where it ended. A lot of the scattered seats were empty, but it looked like a crowd of tourists were simply trying to overtake the three baristas inside.

This Starbucks technically closed 5 minutes ago (8pm), but fortunately Trump Tower stays open until 10pm so one can still sit and sip for a few more hours.

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NYC Starbucks: 29th & 5th

21 Aug

29th and 5th Starbucks

It’s funny how I just keep stumbling upon unseen Starbucks day after day. Just when I think I’ve visited all the locations in a neighborhood, I find another. This one sits in the shadow of the Empire State Building on the corner of 29th and 5th Avenue. It straddles NoMad and Rose Hill on the avenue known for its expensive retailers and prestigious shops.

Inside the Starbucks, the crowd is pretty muted. The drink line was short; the seats were only half taken; and most of the patrons are plugged into laptops or iPads. Perhaps, the crowd is less dense than most because there is no public restroom to keep people here for extended periods of time. And I never get tired of watching people walk in then quickly walk out after they realize this public restroom is nothing but a mirage.

If this Starbucks was a little bigger (with a little more seating), it may make for the perfect cafe to spend some quality time in.

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NYC Starbucks: 181st & Fort Washington

20 Aug

181st and Fort Washington Starbucks

I finally made it — I’m sitting at the northern most Starbucks in Manhattan. The Starbucks on 181st and Fort Washington Avenue is in the Hudson Heights neighborhood of Washington Heights, just south of Inwood and north of Hamilton Heights — obviously there are a lot of ‘height’s up here.

Before moving to NYC, I wanted to get a feel for what an affordable apartment was going to cost me, so I scoped out ads on Craigslist. I put in what I thought was a reasonable amount to pay each month for rent, and only two neighborhoods returned matching results: Inwood and Washington Heights. Obviously I had two choices: Suck it up and live way up here or adjust my definition of ‘reasonable.’ I chose the latter.

Besides riding through this area on a bus, this is the most north I’ve been since moving to NYC. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I got the chance to walk around and explore the area. Everyone I’ve spoken to has talked about northern Manhattan as “a whole different world.” I was expecting a suburbanesque landscape with lots of trees and shrubbery. But, I have to admit, it bears a strong resemblance to the some of the other southern neighborhoods. All in all, I think Manhattan is Manhattan is Manhattan. You can’t escape street venders, delis, coffee houses and towering apartment buildings.

I’m not going to lie — I had high hopes for the Starbucks on 181st and Fort Washington. I figured since it was the most northern location — with virtually no other Starbucks in the area — it would be larger and homey. But no. It’s a small corner location, with a few seats lining the windows opposite a small barista bar. The crowd is thick and steady, and the baristas seem to lack that Manhattan sense of urgency you get in most other NYC Starbucks.

Overall, it was definitely worth the trip — one bus ride, a train ride and a short walk — up here to explore the area. The coffee’s the same, but the air is just a little cleaner.

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NYC Starbucks: 78th & Lexington

18 Aug

78th and Lexington Starbucks

All good things must come to an end. Vacations… coffee breaks… Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton’s friendship… and — sadly — this season’s Starbucks Treat Receipt. I almost wonder if it would be more profitable for Starbucks to keep the Treat Receipt program around year-round, but I assume their marketing team has already looked into that and decided against it. It’s kind of like the Disney Vault… if those movies were available all of the time, no one would be buying them.

I decided to enjoy my last $2 iced beverage at a Starbucks in the Upper East Side on the corner of 78th and Lexington. To further treat myself, I decided to make it a iced white chocolate mocha, which — if you’ve had one — you know they are to die for.

This Starbucks is directly on the corner and extends down Lexington for quite a distance. There are numerous bar stools placed up against the avenue facing windows and an additional seating area with a long sofa, two tables-for-two and a communal table at one end of the store. There are two entrances, one restroom and plenty of uncovered power outlets. The environment is very chill and relaxed — lots of laptops, books and a few families.

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NYC Starbucks: 80th & York

17 Aug

80th and York Starbucks

It’s hard to believe that summer is already coming to an end here in NYC. Labor Day is around the corner and the temp is already starting to drop back into the 60s at night. Looks like my weekends spent laying out in Central Park and walking around in a tank top and shorts will be coming to an end much sooner than I’m used to. However, until I’m absolutely forced to bundle up in snow boots and a bubble jacket, I’ll continue to leisurely explore the city on days like today.

Yesterday I spent some time exploring the Upper West Side and after taking a stroll through Central Park, I decided that today I would probe deeper into its counterpart neighborhood: the Upper East Side, specifically Yorkville. It still astonishes me how calm this neighborhood is. I walked a good mile on York Ave before arriving at the Starbucks on 80th street, and mostly I examined couples pushing kids in strollers, people walking dogs, or friends enjoying a bite to eat at some restaurant’s outdoor seating.

Even the Starbucks on 80th and York has outdoor seating!

This is obviously a thing for Yorkville Starbucks stores. The only other location I’ve visited in Yorkville was on the corner of 85th & 1st, and it surprised me with a private outdoor seating area elevated above the sidewalk. This Starbucks seating is level with the sidewalk, but detached enough to still feel roomy. So roomy, in fact, that most outdoor occupants have a tiny dog at their feet — but then again, that’s just the nature of this neighborhood. And if you can’t find a seat outside — or happen to suffer from cynophobia — there is plenty of room inside.

Honestly, this Starbucks has me smitten. I can easy imagine myself coming here to study once classes start up again in the fall. The large couch inside is actually comfy, comfy, not just padded. And with well-placed power outlets and a light crowd, I could see myself spending countless hours here. If it wasn’t so far away from public transportation, this could easily be a a 5-Cup Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 86th & Columbus

16 Aug

86th and Columbus Starbucks

Life has a natural symmetry… a way of balancing things out. Yesterday, I visited one of the worst Starbucks in Manhattan and today I’m sitting at what is arguably one of the best.

The Upper West Side Starbucks on the corner of 86th & Columbus is roughly the size of three regular NYC Starbucks. I actually passed by the entrance on my way to grab lunch and as I kept walking I noticed that I was still passing by windows that belonged to the Starbucks. It just goes on and on.

The neighborhood surrounding this Starbucks consists of nice restaurants with outdoor seating, coffee shops (other than Starbucks, that is), a few delis and, of course, Central Park to the east.

Inside, the Starbucks has two seating areas equipped with sofas, comfy chairs, tables-for-two and a few larger tables as well. The decor is nice; including a curving mural wall, hanging mirrors, pictures and even some white pillars on display in the window. The lighting is a little dim but not too bad. But, what I think is most impressive about this Starbucks is the lack of a crowd. I’ve been here for quite some time, and there has always been a few seats available — comfy seats at that! There’s even open outlets.

I could go on and on about how much I like this Starbucks. But I’d rather spend a little more time enjoying it instead of writing about it.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & 7th

15 Aug

34th and 7th Starbucks

I consider the corner of 34th and 7th Avenue to to be the epicenter of Midtown, Manhattan. It’s just west of Macy’s; just north of Penn Station; and a few blocks south of Times Square. Buses heading out of the city (if not going through the Port Authority Bus Terminal) often pick you up and drop you off on this street, and it’s surrounded by hotels in every direction.

But what does all this say about the Starbucks that exists on this corner?

Three words: busy, crowded and cramped.

This Starbucks is narrow in structure, but that kind of works for this location since it has both a street entrance and exit into an office building; so in theory, it serves its purpose for all those who work in that building. Unfortunately, for everyone else, this Starbucks’ structure is much more frustrating than convenient.

There are six tables lined up against one wall. Each of those are crowded with patrons and non-patrons. Actually, a lot of people are on laptops with no coffee in hand or simply sitting and staring blankly with luggage by their side. Each time one person leaves, another person that has been standing and waiting rushes to the empty seat.

So — yeah — this Starbucks may be in the epicenter of Midtown Manhattan, but that only means it takes the crowd of two Midtown Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 27th & 6th

13 Aug

27th and 6th Starbucks

This weekend I did something I can’t say I’ve done in over a year: I spent an entire weekend without any Starbucks. This was not by choice but an inadvertent reality I had to face when visiting Provincetown, MA. Luckily, what this small town on the tip of Cape Cod lacks in Starbucks, it makes up with culture, beaches, bars and quirky shops to visit. This was my first time in Ptown, and I must say, I’m a huge fan. In a way, it’s the anti-New York, and I even enjoyed sampling the local cafes.

However, after a long weekend away from NYC, sometimes it feels good to return to the fast paced streets and active lifestyle of a New Yorker. At least there’s Starbuck here.

Today, I’m spending some time in a Starbucks on the corner of 27th and 6th Ave. This area is on the border of both Chelsea and NoMad, yet it hardly resembles either neighborhood. This strip of 6th Ave is inundated with quick service lunch restaurants to service the nearby business crowds of the Flatiron district.

The Starbucks itself is designed well, but tiny. It’s placed directly on the corner and constructed like the cutout of a circle. There’s no restroom, and — even worse — no seating. Yes, there are plenty of Starbucks in either direction on 6th Ave, but I still see no reason why 8-10 stools can’t be placed facing the window-bar.

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