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NYC Starbucks: 48th & Lexington

11 Dec

48th and Lexington Starbucks

Before I go into the elaborate — cough cough — details of the Starbucks on 48th and Lexington, I want to address my brief hiatus.

I was in Vegas!

No really. One of my best friends turned 30 this past weekend, and we thought there would be no better way to welcome Gay Death — as some call it — then to take it to Las Vegas. This was my first time out there, and I won’t bore you with how I managed to escape with a $30 profit on the slot machines, how we ended up taking a Cirque du Soleil style gym class, or our belaboring flight delays. But I would like to mention the state of Starbucks in that city.

Literally, before I left the airport I had passed two Starbucks coffee stands within the terminals. And once we got to The Strip it became pretty obvious that most every hotel/casino had at least 1 or more Starbucks inside. Here I thought Vegas ran on cigarettes, alcohol, and blind hope, but apparently Starbucks coffee has its role as well. Also worth mentioning is that all the casino Starbucks I visited were definitely licensed stores. Sometimes the pastries varied and not all took the Starbucks app as a form of payment. Still… it was pretty neat seeing how Starbucks is embedded in the flashing lights of that city.

Now that I’m back, I’m determined to dive right in and finish off the remaining Starbucks I’ve yet to visit in NYC.

The Starbucks pictured above is on the corner of 48th and Lexington and is attached to The Lexington — a boutique Marriott hotel. It has a street entrance on Lexington and also feeds into The Lexington’s lobby. Essentially, this gives the Starbucks the feel of a small hallway — a coffee scented hallway, that is. It’s really small, has no seating, and no restroom of its own. But one thing it does have is some interesting decor.

Pictured above is one of three identical wall plaques that line the entrance walls of the Starbucks. From outside looking in, this statuary immediately gave me a religious vibe. But I can also see some Greek or Roman attributes as well. Really, I can’t tell what or why these 6 figures represent. But they certainly bring a level of uniqueness to this small Midtown location.

If you’re staying at The Lexington or in the area you should check it out — unless you’re strong proponent of the separation of church and Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: Platt & William

4 Dec

Platt and William Starbucks

The Starbucks at Platt street and William street in FiDi is an anomaly. From the outside, it looks amazing. It’s exterior is all platted glass. There’s an interior Starbucks sign that curves along with the exterior structure. It’s located inside the beautifully decorated courtyard of the large office building at One William Street. And everything in close proximity seems to glow due to the luminous pillars and overhead lights of the courtyard.

Unfortunately, the magic fades once you enter the Starbucks itself. The structure of the lobby curves along with the arching exterior. And since there’s only one entrance, this causes a good deal of bottlenecking at the end of the line where patrons are waiting to pick up there drinks. I arrived at 5pm today and the crowd was not too bad, but I can’t imagine what this Starbucks looks like during the morning rush.

Don’t get me wrong. This Starbucks is beautifully decorated. But its size and design flaws seem somewhat impractical for a busy FiDi location.

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NYC Starbucks: Water & Whitehall

27 Nov

Water and Whitehall Starbucks

Presently, most New Yorkers are attempting to flee the city before the ThanksGiving nor’easter arrives. However, I — having no desire to pay holiday flight prices to Florida — plan on spending this stormy 4-day weekend doing something that really matters: shopping!

Now before you go judging me, know that the past 5 holiday seasons I’ve spent entrenched in retail madness. Last year I ate Chinese food for thanksgiving dinner then reported to work at Target by 9pm. Black Friday shopping has rarely been a possibility for me since I’m always working. So this year, I plan to take full advantage of the approaching sales. Obviously, I’ll need more than my fair share of Starbucks to cope with the early morning crowds and ferocity of other shoppers. Maybe I’ll even get to review a Starbucks during the mad dash for Christmas gifts.

But before all that drama starts, I decided to visit Manhattan’s southernmost Starbucks in the small South Ferry area. This isn’t really a neighborhood; it’s more like a small section of ports  and docks for those wishing to catch a ferry to either Staten Island or Governor’s Island.

The Starbucks is directly north of the 1-train’s South Ferry station and is located inside the New York Plaza — a very oversized and elegant residential building. Unfortunately, the exquisite taste of the building cannot make up for the fact that the Starbucks is as small as a Midtown studio. There’s no seating or public restroom and just enough space to receive your drink, U-turn and head back outside.

Most likely, this Starbucks was put in place to catch the subway and ferry crowd while simultaneously solidifying the elegant stature of the New York Plaza.

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NYC Starbucks: William & Spruce (Pace University)

24 Nov

WIlliam and Spruce Pace University Starbucks

After visiting the Starbucks just outside of Columbia University in Morningside Heights yesterday, I decided today was the day to infiltrate the Starbucks inside Pace University near the corner of William and Spruce.

You see, I’ve recently discovered that certain Starbucks are actually off-limits to the general public. Most are in office buildings, but some are actually inside college campuses. Earlier this week I went looking for the Starbucks inside of Pace University, only to be turned away by a campus security guard. So, I knew today I had to be a little more persuasive. Well, that’s not entirely true, I just dressed like an undergrad would on a Sunday and asked the front desk security where the Starbucks was. Regardless — it worked like a charm!

Unfortunately, the Starbucks itself is completely lacking of charm. Not only were the baristas rude (see description below) but the Starbucks itself is simply one of many restaurants inside a small campus food court. There’s no Starbucks WiFi and no comfy chairs. There’s just a cafeteria-esque environment of young Pace students grabbing lunch and a midday pick-me-up.

I know they say our college years are some of the best of our life, but I really beg to differ. The past two days of being around undergrads from both Columbia and Pace got me thinking. And I can honestly say that the best years are those that follow your graduation. That’s when the messy mold that formed in college begins to harden and you get to see just who you are and what you want to do in this life.

BTW…

This is completely unrelated to the Pace University Starbucks, but some of you may recognize the image in the top-right corner of this blog entry’s photo. It’s Starbucks new holiday tumbler and it costs $75!  Why you ask? Well, besides an artistic design — it also gives the owner a free handcrafted espresso beverage every day in January when you bring it into a participating Starbucks. So for those of you who really love their lattes, this may be the perfect tumbler for you. Or if you know someone who can’t get enough Starbucks, this would also make an excellent Christmas gift. It’s even going on sale for $65 on Black Friday. If you do the math, anyone who purchases it and uses it daily in January, will get their money’s worth well before the month ends. Unless of course your New Years resolution is to give up caffeine.

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NYC Starbucks: 35th & 11th (Javits Center)

20 Nov

35th and 11th Javits Center Starbucks

Today I pretended to be a professional working in the field of internet security just so I could sneak a peek at one of NYC’s most isolated Starbucks. I’m referring to the small Starbucks stand inside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center off of 11th Avenue in Midtown. What you see pictured above is an enormous glass plated convention building right near the Lincoln Tunnel to Jersey.

I’ve been staring at that one isolated dot on the Starbucks App for quite some time — wondering exactly what was all-the-way out there on 11th avenue besides gas stations and drive-thru McDonalds. And as I approached the massive convention center on my Citi Bike, it seemed weird that I’d never spotted this building before. Albeit it is in Hellsea — the neighborhood of traffic jams and construction — but it’s also right up against the West Side Highway in an area I’ve biked up and down countless times. How’d I miss the giant glass building?

Once I parked my Citi Bike at the corner of 34th and 11th — very convenient, btw — I followed someone with a conference badge that looked like he knew where he was going. Once inside I was surrounded by hundreds of ISC East convention-goers. I had done some research of the conference and found out that it was all about internet security and cutting-edge programs to keep businesses and programs safe. So, not exactly my cup of tea, and clearly I did not take the steps to register to attend. So I walked around and tried to look like I belonged. First I stumbled upon a small food stand that was serving coffee out of white Starbucks cups as well as some sandwiches and pastries. An amateur may have been fooled by this, but I knew this was no corporate or licensed Starbucks, just as I knew I there was one in the building somewhere, and I was going to find it.

So I continued to wonder until a security guard asked me for my conference badge. I played dumb and asked her where the Starbucks was, but she didn’t know. Finally I found two gentleman with authentic Starbucks drinks in their hands and they informed me the Starbucks was on the other side of the building. So I cut around the registration line, bypassed more security guards, breezed by several construction teams — the convention center is apparently under renovations — until I finally spotted the Starbucks branded coffee stand in a mostly deserted area of the building. There was no line — even though stanchions were set up — and the baristas were eager to take my order. I then found a small cafeteria/seating area one floor down from the Starbucks and sat for a moment to enjoy my iced coffee before vacating the Javits Center entirely.

Obviously, this is not the kind of Starbucks that any normal tourist or NYC resident will be interested in visiting. It’s far too isolated from the rest of Manhattan and not easily accessible to anyone not going to a convention of some sort. Still, it is a licensed Starbucks and I had to see it for myself.

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NYC Starbucks: Carlisle & Washington

30 Oct

Carlisle and Washington Starbucks

I found it! I’ve been waiting to come across this Starbucks since I started this blog. No… the Starbucks on Carlisle and Washington is nothing spectacular — quite the opposite actually — but it holds a special place in my memory as it is one of the Starbucks I came to when I first visited NYC. Actually — I don’t even think I purchased anything at this location, I just really needed to use the restroom after paying my respects to the 911 Memorial. And now that I’m thinking about it, that action was a clue that I was meant to be a New Yorker.

This Starbucks is actually attached a part of the Marriott Downtown which is right of the West Side Highway of Manhattan. You can either enter the Starbucks through the lobby or its separate entrance on the backside of the Marriott. I think we must have been lost when we stumbled upon this location, because the cross-street of Carlisle and Washington isn’t exactly out in the open.

Once inside you’ll notice a couple of things. It’s extremely small. It has only one small stretch of seating. And there is no public restroom. If you’re really observant, you’ll also notice that this is a licensed Starbucks (probably owned by Marriott). The give-away? They don’t have the Starbucks App scanners and the receipts look different. Also the Internet is not AT&T WiFi or Google WiFi; it’s provided by the Marriott and doesn’t seem to work properly.

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NYC Starbucks: 45th & Park

10 Oct

45th and Park Starbucks

I think when Howard Schultz and Starbucks Corporate came up with the idea of paying it forward (#payitforward) at its many stores across the nation they left some kinks in the chain. And they simply didn’t account for what a New York City Starbucks environment is really like. Today alone, I attempted and failed, not once, but twice at paying it forward — or backward, really –at two different Starbucks.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about above, here’s a quick overview. This Monday, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz released a letter that urged other successful business CEOs to put the pressure on their representatives and end this government shutdown. Did you know Schultz is a Democrat? How rare for such a successful CEO! Anyway… Then Wednesday, Starbucks released information on a three-day promotion in an email stating: “Pay it forward. Get a free coffee.” The concept is simple: Come into Starbucks between Oct 9-11, buy someone else their favorite drink (preferably a stranger), and you receive a complimentary tall coffee for your civility. Simple enough, right?

When I first heard of this promotion, I thought it was the coolest thing. I love the idea of Starbucks attempting to start a small movement of generosity while our government is currently shutdown due to hostility and greed. But when you put the concept into practice, it doesn’t seem to work as well as it was intended.

So my first attempt to pay it forward this morning was thwarted by the simple fact that there was a line in the Union Square Starbucks that was out the door and I was pinched for time. Therefore, no Starbucks for me or any stranger this morning.

My second attempt was at the Starbucks just outside of the MetLife Building on 45th & Park. I walked into this very small Starbucks and ordered my usual grande iced coffee and waited for someone else to come in. Then a gentleman came in by himself while I lingered at the register. When the barista turned his attention to his new customer, I intercepted and told him that I wanted to “pay it forward” and buy this gentleman’s drink. The barista looked confused, so I went on. Aren’t you guys running a promotion to buy someone else a drink? Still — he looked confused, and the gentleman whose drink I was attempting to buy looked even more confused. So the barista asked one of his partners who looked to be the manager on duty. Still — this man looked confused.

The presumed manager went on to tell me that some people have been coming in over the past few days expecting some sort of buy-one-get-one, and he knew nothing about this Pay it Forward promotion. So in the end, the gentlemen whose drink I attempted to buy ended up ordering and paying for 11 dollars worth of food and drinks on his own while I questioned the staff that had no answers for me.

Now, I’m wondering how Starbucks spread the word of this promotion internally? And has anyone had a successful #payitforward experience yet? In New York City? I guess I’ll attempt once more tomorrow.

See below for the details on the MetLife Starbucks on 45th & Park.

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NYC Starbucks: 44th & Madison

7 Oct

44th and Madison Starbucks

Here’s a small hint to the rating system I have been working with since this blog’s inception. If the only nice thing I can say about a NYC Starbucks is it’s in a good location, then — yea — it’s a 1-Cup Starbucks. Case in point: The Starbucks on 44th & Madison Avenue.

This Starbucks is directly across the best-kept secret Starbucks I visited last Friday. Unfortunately, last week’s Starbucks hides so well, that this one is forced to take the brunt of Midtown traffic — even though it’s much smaller and has one-fourth the seating. The coffee line wasn’t too long, but ironically there was even a line of people waiting for someone to leave the completely occupied seating area.

The only thing this Starbucks has going for it is the fact that there’s no restroom, so obviously, the patrons can’t linger forever.

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NYC Starbucks: 41st & 3rd

28 Sep

41st and 3rd Starbucks

In no other neighborhood in New York is space as valuable as it is in Midtown. The Starbucks I’m currently sitting at on 41st and 3rd literally looks like it was once a retail space that was cut in half. And why not? Two small stores in Midtown means double the rent and twice the chance of profits. It’s a win win. Or, at least it is for all who aren’t claustrophobic.

But then again. This area of Midtown-East that borders Murray Hill and Turtle Bay is mostly catering to the business crowd. So most patrons probably aren’t inside this Starbucks any longer than it takes to add milk to their coffee and then scram. This also means this Starbucks closes extra early. In fact, it’s closing time now.

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NYC Starbucks: 23rd & 3rd

26 Sep

23rd and 3rd Starbucks

Having visited well over 100 Starbucks in Manhattan this year, I’ve had my fair share of interesting experiences. NYC is an ‘interesting’ city — after all — filled with ‘interesting’ people. But what I witnessed today at the Starbucks on the corner of 23rd and 3rd Avenue, has got to be the craziest. I mean, most ‘interesting.’

An older gentlemen came into the Starbucks with one of those reusable plastic grande cups — stained and battered. Although he didn’t quite look homeless, he certainly smelled homeless. How do I know? Well, of course he sat directly across from me at the same table. In the short time I was there, I witnessed him harass the baristas — apparently attempting to give them a laptop he claimed had a virus on it — unload his bag of colored markers and half smoked cigarettes onto our table, and walk around the tiny Starbucks talking to no one in particular.

It’s my theory that NYC makes people crazy. It has a degenerative effect on people’s social skills and literally changes how people act, how they communicate, and how they go about their days. Eccentric may be a more politically correct way to describe the behavior I witness. But I think these habits get worse the longer someone lives in the city. After all, there’s so many people living on this tiny island, that crazy tends to blend in. It makes me wonder how I’ll act 5 years from now?

All that being said, I’d like it to be known that I already concluded this Starbucks was only worth 1-Cup long before Mr. Eccentricity showed up. Reason being: It is way too small, way too crowded and offers very few seats. Perhaps if it were more conveniently located or actually offered a restroom it would have received a higher score. But then again, if so, it may attract more kookie characters.

That’s all for the moment. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to wipe off the banana smoothie that my table-mate splashed onto my laptop.

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