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NYC Starbucks: 34th & 8th

3 Dec

34th and 8th Starbucks

 

Just a stone’s throw away from Macy’s Herald Square — in the thick of Penn Station traffic — is a the small Starbucks at the base of the towering skyscraper of 1 Penn Plaza. It’s semi-removed from the street and a few yards from the exterior plaza on the corner of 8th avenue. Technically, this Starbucks is neither on 7th or 8th ave, but I eye-balled it closer to 8th.

Although this Starbucks looks like it has the potential to be quite sizable from the outside — with its long window paneled exterior — it’s really just a trick of the eye. This Starbucks is another small shallow shotgun style store. There’s a few stools lining the glass walls and an entrance into the office space of 1 Penn Plaza, but that’s nearly it. No restroom, no distinct seating area, and no need to hang around for longer than you need to.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s 2nd Floor)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Macy's 2nd Floor

Well, I have to admit. I came to Macy’s today with a plan: Visit the four Starbucks inside starting from the top and work my way out of the massive store in time to meet some friends for brunch. I started with a latte at the 6th floor Starbucks, quickly followed it with a double shot of espresso at the 5th floor Starbucks, took my time sipping a tall pike in the 3rd floor Starbucks’ generous seating area, and then arrived at the first floor balcony Starbucks with just enough room in me for another double shot.

What I did not expect was to be told by one of the baristas at the balcony location that there is actually a 5th Starbucks cafe inside Macy’s on the the 2nd floor. Hell, I thought I was technically on the second floor! But no. When I asked about the supposed “Evening Menu”, I was told I would find it at the 2nd floor Herald Square Café. Needless to say, I quickly downed my double shot, cut through the perfumes and headed back up the escalator.

And there it was, right on the Broadway side of the building in the corner of the women’s shoe department. I had literally passed by it on my way to the 6th floor earlier and not even noticed. Why? Two reasons: they do a good job at distinguishing it from the rest of the merchandise, and there is technically no Starbucks branding on any of the signs. None. As you can see above, all signs read: Herald Square Cafe. Now before you go jumping to any conclusions, this is not like your typical Barnes & Noble Cafe that happens to serve Starbucks coffee. This is a truly unique experience altogether.

Where do I start?

So yes, this location is called the Herald Square Cafe, but it is owned by Starbucks. Some have called these kind of stores mercantile or non-branded, but honestly the coffee cups are still typical Starbucks red-cups, so it’s not that sneaky. Yes, there is also an evening menu that includes champagne and wines. It also has some pretty neat food options like truffle oil mac & cheese and hand-crafted chocolates, but honestly my mind went straight to the fact that they serve alcohol. I wonder what that says about me?

Anyway. The seating area — in fact, the entire cafe — is very elegant and classy. The tables and chairs are composed of marble and wood. The sofas are upholstered with a dark grey floral design, and there is a beautiful clock fixture mounted on the wall that represents Macy’s exterior clock that overlooks Broadway.

Well , I must admit I probably looked like a crazy person. Here I stand, a Starbucks enthusiast hyped up on 2 double shots of espresso, a latte and a coffee, standing in a newly discovered and very unique Starbucks that serves champagne and brings your food to your table. So what did I do? I ordered myself a brut rosé, sat down at one of the extravagant sofas and simply allowed myself to relax for a moment — a long moment. I sipped my champagne and thought how cool this past year has been and how I’ve enjoyed discovering places like this around the city. I know New York is not for everyone, and I know there is much more than Starbucks in New York. But this experience really has led me on quite the journey. Those are just a few of the thoughts that came to mind before I finished my glass and walked out of the Macy’s Herald Square and its five distinct Starbucks within.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s Balcony)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's Balcony

The balcony Starbucks at Macy’s Herald Square is definitely impressive. It actually got renovated this year and was closed for several months. But obviously Macy’s and Starbucks made sure it was all shiny and new before the holiday season.

The balcony floor is also know as floor one and a half, and it overlooks most of the women’s perfume and jewelry department, which is by far the busiest section of Macy’s all year round. Luckily, the renovation seems to have added more seating and more style to this Starbucks. Now there are cushioned seats, mini tables, and dividing wall units that do a descent job at separating the Starbucks lounge from the crazy crowds.

And yes — the crowd is crazy. I’ve waited in line at this Starbucks for over 15-minutes in the past. But fortunately today I caught it at a good time and waited only 2-3.

I thought this location was the only one in New York to offer what Starbucks calls their “Evening Menu” that includes champagne; however, the barista informed me this is not the case. He said there was another Starbucks on the 2nd floor of Macy’s that is known as the Herald Square Cafe, and I could get champagne and wine up there.

Here, I thought there were only four Starbucks in the Macy’s Herald Square, but technically there are five. So clearly my exploration of Macy’s is not over just yet.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s 3rd Floor)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's 3rd Floor

After visiting the Starbucks on the 6th and 5th floors of Macy’s, I’ve now made my way down to the 3rd floor Starbucks. This location differentiates itself from the others because it actually has seating. It’s not simply a Starbucks counter like the others. It is set up in the corner of the floor and is completely distinct from the surrounding Macy’s merchandise. It even has different floor tiling and a half wall dividing it from the 3rd floor women’s department.

There are a handful of tables-for-two, a sofa with power outlets, distinctive Starbucks decor and it even gets natural sunlight from the windows behind the barista bar. Unfortunately, it’s closer to the ground floor so it is also more traveled than the Macy’s Starbucks on the higher levels.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s 5th Floor)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's 5th Floor

After visiting Macy’s 6th floor Starbucks, I simply had to take one escalator down to the 5th floor woman’s department to find the next one. And I have to admit, these two Starbucks are strikingly similar. They are the same exact size. Neither offers seating. And they are both located up against a wall that separates one department from another. The only perceivable difference is that this 5th floor Starbucks is surrounded by woman’s clothing and not bedding.

I simply ordered my double shot of espresso, took in the scene and continued on my way. There are grander Starbucks inside this Macy’s to visit. I know that for a fact.

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NYC Starbucks: 34th & Broadway (Macy’s 6th Floor)

1 Dec

34th and Broadway Starbucks Macy's 6th Floor

Macy’s. A joy to some. A burden to others.

The Macy’s at Herald Square is a lot of things. It’s currently the world’s largest department store. It is the company’s flagship store. It is a New York landmark and central part of a national Thanksgiving tradition.

It’s also one of the first buildings I entered when I first visited New York. What can I say? I was simply drawn to it. I mean — come on — with 10 complete levels of shopping, it’s any gay man’s dream store. The massive department store was actually located directly across from the hotel that my friends and I were staying at, and it caused many directional conundrums. Everywhere I went in the area of Herald Square I saw Macy’s. I’d think I was close to my hotel, when really I was 2-blocks away.

But Macy’s can also be a total stressor — especially around the holidays. When you’re trying to find that special something for that certain someone, and thousands of others are in the same department store doing the same, it can be a complete nightmare. Take this morning for instance — I arrived at Macy’s around 9:40am and realized the store doesn’t open until 10am today. However, there was already a sizable crowd waiting at each and every entrance. And it just kept on growing. Once the doors opened, everyone plunged in and scattered for the good sales or to see Santa on the 8th floor. I — however — just laid back, took it all in and casually strolled to the first of four Starbucks I plan on visiting today.

Yes. There are four Starbucks in this Macy’s alone: one on the 1st floor balcony and one on the 3rd, 5th and 6th floor. In fact, there are more here than in Grand Central, Penn Station or any other New York building. And why not? WIth all that stressful shopping, people need a pick-me-up – or two, or four.

In order to efficiently visit all of the Macy’s Starbucks, I decided to start from the top down and made my way to the 6th floor location. Something worth noting is that after the 5th or so floor the escalators in Macy’s turn from metal to wood. You can see the wooden escalator pictured above. I’ve never seen anything like it. Anyway… on to the Starbucks.

The 6th floor Starbucks is located in the bedding department. There are no seats or separating walls for the Starbucks. It is simply tucked into one of the walls. When I arrived there was no line — but I can tell you from experience, that even though this Starbucks is the highest in Macy’s it can still generate quite the crowd. So I simply ordered my eggnog latte, paused a moment to fully take it in and then moved on. I’ve got more ground to cover!

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NYC Starbucks: 37th & Broadway

29 Oct

37th and Broadway Starbucks

Once again I find myself back in NYC after a short reprieve. I totally understand why most New Yorkers travel so much; it really pays to spend some time outside of this concrete jungle — even for just a long weekend. This time I found myself meeting my boyfriend’s family in New Orleans. You can see my previous post for the details of my Starbucks experiences in The South, but just know that the two cities operate very differently.

While in The Big Easy I was introduced to something called the café au lait. Basically it’s the French version of Starbucks’ caffè misto — which is obviously Italian. The main difference is that in New Orleans, they add chicory to the brew, which gives it a spicy and woody taste that I loved instantly.

So now I’m back in the city sipping on my misto and wishing Starbucks would experiment with chicory in their coffees. I’m also wishing for more sun and warmer weather — but then again — that’s typical of the first few days after I return from a trip elsewhere.

I decided to visit the Starbucks on 37th & Broadway as a way of diving headfirst back into the city’s momentum. Being down south too long made me leisurely, and I can’t always afford to act like that. This Starbucks was not as crowded as I expected it to be, but that may be due to the fact that it simply isn’t big enough. Or possibly because its only restroom was out-of-order.

The patrons that were inside were mostly tourists. The limited window seating that this location offers up were all occupied. And there were no visible power outlets that I could see. Fortunately it’s in a conveniently located area, and if you’re desperate to take a load off, there are plenty of metal chairs outside on this strip of Broadway. I just wouldn’t recommend it on a cold and sunless day like today.

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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: 36th & 6th

5 Sep

36th and 6th Starbucks

Today is Rosh Hashanah. It’s the Jewish New Year. It amazes me how ignorant I was to Jewish culture before moving to New York. It’s not that there weren’t Jews in Orlando, Florida, but there wasn’t such a cultural presence as there is here in NYC. I was reminded of my ignorance once again this week as Rosh Hashanah drew near and I had to ask why some people wouldn’t be into work.  Obviously, I’m still adjusting to life here in the city.

Besides being Rosh Hashanah and the week of Labor Day, it is also the first week of the fall semester at NYU. And to top it all off, I’ve come down with a cold. Luckily, Starbucks is an essential part of my “get well soon” treatment. Well… Tazo Green Tea is, at least.

So here I stand in the Garment District Starbucks on 36th and 6th Ave getting my blog on before my evening class in NYU’s Bryant Park classroom building. Why am I standing you ask? Obviously — it’s because there are no seats at this Starbucks. It’s one of those mini Starbucks that fit in so well in Midtown, Manhattan. It’s small. It’s compact. And it’s designed in a way to keep the crowd moving.

The only thing this Starbucks is missing is a revolving door.

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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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