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NYC Starbucks: Murray & Church

13 Nov

Murray and Church Starbucks

 

I was actually on my way to a different Starbucks in FiDi when I passed by the Starbucks on Murray and Church. I had to do a double-take to make sure I hadn’t already been to and rated this Starbucks before. Am I losing track of where I’ve been? Maybe… After all, I’ve been to over 170 Starbucks. Deja vu at this point is to be expected.

Once inside the Murray and Church Starbucks, I knew for sure I hadn’t seen this location before. On one of the seating area walls is a long framed picture that represents Lower Manhattan (pictured above). I’ve seen a few similar pictures at Starbucks throughout the city, but this one was definitely unique.

This Starbucks is definitely a good size and is well equipped with seating. The restroom line was much longer than the coffee line, and I had no problem finding a seat at the communal table. Unfortunately, the WiFi was atrocious. At first I thought it was down, but after 10-minutes of playing around with it, my computer finally connected. Still… the connection was so slow I didn’t stay online for more than five minutes before giving up.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & 3rd

11 Nov

42nd and 3rd Starbucks

One of the inevitable pangs of living in New York is being stuck in a Starbucks restroom line with a homeless person inside. You can literally be waiting 15-20 minutes while someone bathes, changes clothes, shoots up drugs, talks to themselves… you name it. I feel I’ve been pretty fortunate in my journeys at having avoided this situation; however, today I was not so lucky. I knew I’d be waiting a while in line at the Starbucks on 42nd and 3rd when I heard the toilette flush every 20 or 30 seconds for two-minutes straight. Five minutes later, I was still waiting. Clearly, I wasn’t surprised when the homeless man staggered out. I simply held my nose and dived in after him.

Other than my restroom wait — which can happen at an Starbucks in the city — I found the 42nd & 3rd Starbucks to be welcoming enough. It has plenty of space. It’s well lit. And I caught the line in a lull and barely had to wait. Most of the seating was taken, but it’s not because the crowd was abnormally large. It just seems that there is not enough seating to fill this spacious Starbucks. 10-20 more seats could easily be strategically placed throughout. But then maybe they’d have to put in a second restroom.

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NYC Starbucks: 85th & Lexington

9 Nov

85th and Lexington Starbucks

So I’m playing a little bit of catch up for the month of November and just couldn’t help but knock out two Upper East Side Starbucks in the same day. After all, they are only three blocks away from each other and on the same avenue. All I had to do was walk three streets down on Lexington from the Starbucks on 87th street to the one on 85th.

Although these stores are so close, this Starbucks is technically outside the border of the Carnegie Hills sub-neighborhood that its sister store belongs to. What separates them is a train station and the crowded shopping area on 86th street.

The 85th street Starbucks is about half the size of its counterpart with a third of the crowd. It’s L-shaped with the barista bar near the entrance and some extra seating and the restroom located on the north side. I also spotted a large stack of Starbucks boxes with red stickers labeled “NO PEEKING.” This is probably the third time I’ve noticed these boxes at various locations across the city, and now I’m a little curious as to what exactly they are. My best guess is they are extra inventory during the holiday season, and the labels are just a clever way to keep them in the stores without them becoming an eye sore. Pure speculation, though.

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NYC Starbucks: 76th & Columbus

3 Nov

76th and Columbus Starbucks

Today was a very special day in New York. It was the first ING New York City Marathon since Hurricane Sandy and The Boston Marathon bombing. Last year, the controversial cancellation of the marathon left a lot of would-be-runners upset, and I remember seeing them run up and down the streets of Manhattan as a symbol of solidarity despite the marathon’s cancellation.

The race actually runs right near my apartment on 1st Avenue, and after we stood watching it for a while, we walked around the blockades, through Central Park and into the Upper West Side to enjoy a beautifully chilly day in the city. The race literally snakes around Manhattan, so several areas are blocked off. We watched as friends and family members searched to congratulate their loved ones in the race. And lucky for me, the Starbucks on 76th and Columbus was within a few blocks from where runners could reunite with family. In fact, as my boyfriend and I walked into the Starbucks I got the pleasure of witnessing a man embrace his female partner who had just finished the race. You could tell she was exhausted beyond belief as she nearly collapsed in his arms as he tried to wrap his jacket around her.

So obviously because of the marathon this Starbucks was as crowded as a nightclub this afternoon. Literally, I you had to shuffle through line inch-by-inch and the option of sitting was simply out of the question. However, I have been to this Starbucks in the past, and I can say that I had no trouble finding a seat and the crowd was totally manageable. But it’s not everyday that 47 thousand marathoners take the streets of NYC.

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NYC Starbucks: 51st & Park

22 Oct

51st and Park Starbucks

Yesterday I ended my Starbucks streak for the month of October and took a break from blogging. I visited 22 Starbucks in the first 20 days of the month. So clearly, I am ahead of the curve of my 20 Starbucks a month goal. Now, the Starbucks on 51st and Park makes 23.

Specifically, this Starbucks is located between Park and Madison inside a small courtyard to an office building. Actually, that’s really all there is around here: office buildings and quick service restaurants. And a few hours after the busy men and women of New York grab their Chipotles, Just Salads and Pret A Mangers, they inevitably need a 3pm pick-me-up. Hence the Starbucks.

Although this Starbucks has a small interior and a heavy flow of nine-to-fivers, its courtyard and outdoor seating almost make up for it. There’s even a water fixture just outside its doors where pidgins — okay, just one right now — bathe.

The courtyard is very cute. But it is lacking one thing: patio umbrellas or an awning. And now it’s starting to rain. Until next time!

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NYC Starbucks: 35th & 7th

19 Oct

35th and 7th Starbucks

There is one aspect of each Starbucks that you can’t easily predict by simply looking at it. The quality of its WiFi. Sure you can always log on — unless of course the Starbucks’ Internet is actually down, which happens — technology isn’t perfect. But some Starbucks tend to give me flashbacks to the days of AOL and webpages loading in increments over a minute and a half. Yea, nobody misses those days.

Of course there are some telling signs that the WiFi may be less than impressive: a small location with no seating, a large crowd with lots of laptops, or conversely a large crowd with no laptops at all. Still… you’ll never really know until you attempt to log on.

The Starbucks on 35th & 7th is one that I had a sneaking suspicion from the moment I walked in that the WiFi would be slower than most. Maybe it’s because this is a Midtown Starbucks or because it’s heavily crowded, but somehow I knew the WiFi would be touch and go. What does that mean? Basically — no Youtube videos and Google image search will make you want to punch a baby, which I don’t endorse.

Other than the WiFi, this Starbucks is a mixed bag of lots of good and plenty of bad. It’s in a popular location, much larger than most, has great decor and stays open later than most. Unfortunately, Newton proved long ago that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Meaning this attractive Starbucks in a popular area of NYC can’t help but be bogged down by a huge crowd. Or maybe Kevin Costner said it best in Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”

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NYC Starbucks: 95th & Broadway

18 Oct

95th and Broadway Starbucks

I’ve witnessed a lot of bizarre scenarios in the past 10 months of Starbucks exploration. You’d be quite surprised what some people decide to do in a NY C coffee house. Just yesterday, I sat a few seats down from a woman who apparently came to Starbucks just to charge her iPhone and listen to her music without headphones. She sat there for at least 2 hours blasting the most random music so that half the Starbucks patrons around her were forced to move.

Today at the Upper West Side Starbucks on 95th and Broadway, I bore witness to a whole different type of noise. An argument.

Two middle aged women, who clearly have several years invested in their friendship, apparently chose Starbucks for the place to have their reunion after a short cold-spell where neither had talked to each other. What resulted was a 90 minute debate over who stopped talking to who, why they stopped talking, what an email said, when one should have called the other and whose more dependent on whom. To sum it up, obviously both were ignoring one another because they felt they were being ignored. Lucky me — I got to know these women very, very well.

Hearing these two women bicker about who should have called who and each of them equally justifying the importance of their decisions not to reach out to the other, reminded me very much of two of my best friends back in Florida. The three of us together were this unstoppable force of tomfoolery, intimacy, bonding and magic. We felt more like a coven than just friends.

Now, my two friends have stopped talking to each other over a series of miscommunications and hurt feelings. They are actively ignoring one another while at the same time expecting the other to reach out to them. Sound familiar? To me, it resembles the game of uncle. Both are in pain but neither will cry out because they want the other to give in first. And since I’m 2000+ miles away, my intervention capabilities are severely limited.

The moral of this story is that I’m somewhat relieved to hear these women rekindling ┬áin Starbucks — after a few tears, they did end up making up — because it shows that there is hope for my two friends. Also, it proves that this behavior is not limited to gay men in their 20s — which is also a relief.

I know this does little to give you an idea for what the Starbucks on 95th & Broadway is really like, but I think you’ll find the description below to sum it up just fine.

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NYC Starbucks: 35th & 5th

14 Oct

35th and 5th Starbucks

Today I’m drinking a tall iced coffee at the Midtown Starbucks on 35th & 5th Avenue. I can’t remember the last time I’ve ordered anything smaller than a grande. Then the other day I realized something; I hardly ever finish my drinks. If I get a venti I drink three-fourths of it. If I order a grande, I only drink most of it. So what difference does 4 ounces make? About 44 cents.

This Starbucks is one of those railroad stores — long and narrow. In fact, it’s so long it almost looks like a hallway. Even the tables and barista bar are pushed off to the side to make room for the through-traffic — which there is a lot of. Want to guess what’s at the end of the hall? That’s right, the single restroom.

At least it’s big enough to handle the massive crowd the comes through it, and being just one block north of all the 34th street retail shops, most guests come with 2-3 enormous shopping bags swinging at their sides. It’s enough to make most New Yorkers run the other way.

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NYC Starbucks: 96th & Madison

13 Oct

96th and Madison Starbucks

The lines between most Manhattan neighborhoods often blur and lack a clear distinction. You can walk from Kips Bay to Murray Hill to the Upper East Side and not really tell when one neighborhood ends and another begins. Even the Internet has mixed views on the borders of some neighborhoods. Some argue Midtown stops at 34th street; others say it extends down to 14th. And some claim that Alphabet City no longer exists and refer to it as strictly the Lower East Side.

However, there is one neighborhood distinction that is almost night and day; below 96th street is the Upper East Side and above is Harlem. And the Starbucks on the corner of 96th and Madison is right on the border of these two very different neighborhoods.

As I walked north across 96th street, I was not expecting the neighborhood shift to be so perceptible. But literally, I knew I was in Harlem without needing to look it up on a map. And no, I’m not talking about differences in race, class, or any of that stereotypical bull. I knew because of the gentrification. Below 96th on Madison Avenue were nothing but independently owned specialty shops, spas, and convenient stores. Once north of 96th, the first three stores I saw were Dunkin Donuts, Subway and Verizon. Case closed.

The Starbucks is on the south corner, so it technically belongs to the Upper East Side. But it lacks the size and space of most UES locations, and brings in a more touristy crowd since it is so close to Central Park. The tourists come and go; however, it appears this is also a favored spot for locals to come and hang out for awhile. There’s lots of headsets and laptops taking up the limited seating this Starbucks has to offer… but who am I to judge?

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NYC Starbucks: 49th & Madison

11 Oct

49th and Madison Starbucks

The Starbucks on 49th & Madison has a consistent crowd of people coming, going, using the restroom, and sitting a while. For a Starbucks in Midtown, Manhattan its size is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the L-shaped barista bar takes up a lot of the space and the seating is only lining the walls.

It’s location on Madison Avenue brings in a mix of tourists and business people. There’s actually an interview of some sort being conducted at the table next to me. Side note: I think if a potential employer were to ask me to meet at a Starbucks for an interview I would be very excited, and I’d probably ace the interview since I’d be in my natural element as opposed to a stuffy office.

Also, noteworthy. So far in the month of October, I’ve been able to visit and blog about a new Starbucks each and every day. I’m 11 for 11 and hoping to keep this momentum up. With roughly 80 days left in 2013, I’ve got a ton more iced coffees to drink before my mission is complete.

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