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NYC Starbucks: Liberty & Broadway

18 Sep

Liberty and Broadway Starbucks

Here’s a tip from a guy who’s visited his fair share of Starbucks: If it closes at 6pm and isn’t open on weekends, it may not be ideal for all your coffee house needs. In other words, it’s there just for the money, honey.

The Starbucks on Liberty and Broadway in the Financial District exemplifies my point exactly. Essentially it’s a one-store food-court that services the lobby of One Liberty Plaza. I’m sure the business people in the building appreciate it, but it lacks the cafe ambience that most seek.

Don’t get me wrong… there are tables and chairs. But they are those you would expect to find in a hospital cafeteria: cold, hard and metallic. But — in all honesty — this Starbucks really wasn’t meant for lounging. Nor are most buildings within the Financial District. It’s simply designed to give hardworking New Yorkers the fuel to get them through the day.

In other news, I thought I’d comment on some Starbucks related news I saw circulating both social and traditional media today: Starbucks vs. Guns.

If you’re too lazy to read the New York Times article I linked to above, the basics are as following: 44 States have an “open gun policy” that allows registered gun owners to bear arms in public places (like coffee houses). Starbucks, obviously, tries to abide by state laws, so gun-enthusiasts (is that even a thing?) have been staging “Starbucks Appreciation Days” and openly bringing guns to Starbucks locations across the nation to celebrate. Clearly, this is distracting at least emotional scarring at worst. Today Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz released a statement asking customers to leave firearms behind when they come for their lattes. And now gun-owners everywhere are angry and caffeine deprived because they can’t imagine standing in line for their coffee without feeling the weight of their beloved firearm at their side.

My opinion: Seriously?! You’re mad because you can’t wave your gun around at a Starbucks and scare people?

Why would someone need to openly reveal a gun at a coffee house? Thank God New York is one of the six states that doesn’t allow this because I can guarantee you — after what I’ve seen — there’d be some people shot in a NYC Starbucks. I’m all for human rights. But they need to make sense. If you want to go to Starbucks with a licensed gun, keep it concealed, and no body will be the wiser.

I’d love to hear some other opinions from Starbucks and/or gun enthusiasts.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & Lexington (Grand Central)

17 Sep

43rd and Lexington Starbucks

Grand Central Terminal on any day of the week is simply bursting with business men and tourists — both in and out of rush hour. They scamper through the concourse, dive in and out of shops, huddle together when lost and confused, and sometimes just zoom by you in a blur to catch their  train. And, of course, there are two Starbucks inside to further fuel the flames.

I visited the Starbucks in the Biltmore Passage for my 100th blog. Now, I’m in the northeast corner of GST at the self-contained Starbucks off of Lexington Avenue. This location may have its own interior, but unfortunately it is so small that it almost works against the Starbucks. Although there are two entrances — one on Lex and one within the terminal — the lobby is so narrow that when entering from the street it proves difficult to even get to the back of the line. And yes… there’s always a line.

Today is also the first day that I have spotted La Boulange bakery products in a NYC Starbucks. The company purchased this San Francisco based bakery earlier this year and is in the process of bringing La Boulange baked goods to all its locations. I first spotted the pink coffee sleeves and different pastries in California last month, and once I researched La Boulange, I knew it was only a matter of time before they made their way to New York. 

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NYC Starbucks: 44th & Lexington

7 Sep

44th and Lexington Starbucks

Today I did something unprecedented. I attended class on a Saturday morning. Not only does it start at 9am, but it lasts for six hours. You may think my the next few months are looking pretty grim, but alas I’m confident I will survive.

We even had a lengthy discussion about Starbucks today. The class is a PR Writing course, and we spent nearly 30 minutes critiquing Starbucks’ most recent press release announcing the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Although most of the discussion was aimed toward whether the release was affective or not, we also discussed the cultural significance of Starbucks, its ability to signify the beginning of fall and just how many people care about the return of the PSL. Obviously, I came to Starbucks defense. After all, it was my Venti Iced Coffee that enabled me to stay awake in class this morning.

Now, I sit in the Starbucks on the corner of 44th and Lexington Avenue. From its exterior, I had high hopes for this Starbucks. It’s got a great deal of window space. It’s connected to the gigantic US Post Office. And I could see empty seats through the windows — always a good sign.

Unfortunately, the facade turned out to be a mirage, and this Starbucks is as shallow as a Hell’s Kitchen gay bar. Literally, the barista bar is a mere 5 ft from the front entrance. It expends a good length on either side, but if a line were to form, there’d be a whole lot of bumped shoulders and ‘excuse me’s just to get to the milk and sugar bar. Thankfully, the crowd is light today. But I’m sure this Starbucks takes a beating during the week due to its proximity to Grand Central Terminal.

With no power outlets and no public restroom, perhaps this Starbucks would be better served as a sidewalk concession stand — a NYC drive-through, if you will. No lobby. Simply walk up to the window, place your order, step forward, receive your order, continue down Lexington Avenue. Done deal.

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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: 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: 57th & Lexington NWC

27 Jun

57th and Lexington Starbucks

I wish I could say more positive things about the Starbucks on 57th & Lexington. My mother always said if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.

So I guess I will start with the positive. This Starbucks is in a great location. Lexington avenue in this odd mixture of Midtown and the Upper East Side is filled with retail possibilities, good restaurants, and public transportation.

And that’s all the good I have.

Honestly, this is just one of those Get In, Get Out locations. It’s triangular in shape and reminds me of my first NYC apartment that was nothing but this odd hybrid between a kitchen, living room and bedroom doors. There are only  7 stools up against one windowed wall. There’s no bathroom and nothing notable about the decor.

Sometimes a Starbucks is just a Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 23rd & Park

24 Jun

23rd and Park Starbucks

Today I decided to visit the Starbucks on 23rd and Park Avenue South, mostly because it’s directly opposite the Starbucks on 26th and Broadway that I visited last week. This Starbucks is on the southeast side of Madison Square Park; that Starbucks is on the northwest side.

I definitely, definitely prefer the northwest side. This Starbucks is small, narrow, cramped, cold and lacking a public restroom. Yet still plenty of people rush in and out of its doors. Perhaps the reason it maintains such a crowd is because this Starbucks is above a subway station. Or maybe the park crowd tends to move southeast instead of northwest. Whatever the reason — of the two Starbucks that overlook Madison Square Park, this one is trampled by the competition.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & 8th

21 Jun

43rd and 8th Starbucks

The Starbucks on 43rd and 8th avenue is one I noticed for the first time last night on my jaunt through Time Square on my way back home. I passed the New York Times headquarters (very impressive!) and then spotted it.

So this morning on my way to work I figured why not see what this Starbucks has to offer… unfortunately, it’s not much.

The Starbucks was extremely crowded for 8am. Yes, I expect there to be a long line of New Yorkers seeking their morning fix. I expect people coming and going (and pushing) at rapid speeds. But this location — so close to Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal — is filled with sight-seers and tourists filled with excitement and ready to start their day of NYC exploration. No available seats (not that this Starbucks had much to offer) and just one restroom, which I was actually surprised to see any at all. Oh, and did I mention the construction covering the exterior?

The one good thing about this Starbucks: location, location, location… at least if you’re looking for the bright lights of the big city.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & Broadway

17 Apr

43rdandBroadway

Today my Starbucks adventure took me back to one of the many Time Square locations.

Unfortunately, this one does not have much to brag about — in fact, it doesn’t have much at all. Literally, this Starbucks is nothing but a small room with a barista bar, milk station, and a swiveling line. No tables, no chairs, no restroom. Just coffee, tea, and baked goods. There were literally people sitting on the window sills. 

I’ll say one thing about Starbucks like this — they’re kind of a necessity. They’re not glamorous. They’re not meant for lingering. But without them, the nicer & larger Starbucks that are close by would be frequented by even more people. They’re both a blessing and a curse. 

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & Madison

6 Apr

42ndandmadison

Let me preface this post by saying that this Starbucks is actually between Madison and Park on 42nd Street; however, for clarity’s sake I named it after the cross-street I felt it was closer to.

This Midtown Starbucks’ absence of a bathroom finally inspired me to research New York City’s codes and laws concerning public restrooms and food service establishments. And — of course — the New York Times was there to provide me with my answer. Check out this 2012 article about NYC’s shifting policy on restroom rules in restaurants. Or if you’re lazy (it’s okay, I understand) just read below:

Restaurants with under 20 seats: NO RESTROOM REQUIRED

Restaurants with seating between 20 and 30: ONE UNISEX RESTROOM REQUIRED

Restaurants with 30 or more seats: TWO GENDER SPECIFIC RESTROOMS REQUIRED

And there you have it. It all makes sense now. Since most Starbucks probably are capable of seating between 20-30 patrons, the one-unisex restroom makes perfect sense. Whereas a Starbucks of the same size in Florida would most definitely have two gender specific restrooms — and that’s because of the differing city codes. Space is of great value here in NYC, so why waste space on one or two bathrooms when you don’t need to.

This Starbucks has only 7 seats, so despite the fact that they are in a highly trafficked and see many patrons, they are well below the city code for a restroom requirement. Keep that in mind the next time you walk into a Starbucks, small deli, or cafe. Do a quick seat count before complaining that they need to have a restroom. Maybe they do — maybe they don’t.

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