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NYC Starbucks: 41st & 8th (Port Authority)

10 Jul

41st and 8th Starbucks

By now I’ve visited Starbucks within banks, Starbucks in business lobbys, Starbucks in airports, and Starbucks in retail stores. And today I add one more type of Starbucks to my hitlist: a Starbucks in a bus station. Not just any station though, this Starbucks is the latest addition to the giant Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown between 4oth and 41st street on 8th avenue.

This Starbucks is one of the newest additions to the 200 plus locations on the island of Manhattan and wasn’t here when I started this blog over six months ago. Unfortunately, that means it wasn’t hear a few years ago when I first visited Manhattan and ran through this labyrinth of a bus terminal in search of a friend who had taken a bus into the city. If it had been here, then the terminal may have been a little more welcoming.

As it is, this Starbucks is on the main concourse level of the bus terminal and is only a couple of yards from the exit onto 8th avenue and cab service. According to a New York Times article (whose headquarters is conveniently located across the street) around 250,000 people pass through this terminal each day, and I’ll bet half stop at this Starbucks. So of course, there is no need for a doorway or wall to limit traffic; the Starbucks simply opens up into the terminal, and the distinction between cafe and bus station rests in floor tiles, music (jazz, currently) and aroma. The Starbucks does gather quite the crowd, but my hat goes off to the baristas who try to stay on top of who’s sitting here enjoying a coffee and who’s just looking to loaf.

Would I recommend this Starbucks as a “Go-To Starbucks” to catch up with a friend over coffee? No… But it certainly is convenient for tired travelers in and out of NYC.

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NYC Starbucks: 35th & 8th

13 Jun

35th and 8th Starbucks

I’m only going to blog about the Starbucks on 35th & 8th for as long as I can stand it. No, quite literally, I’m standing as I type this. Welcome to Midtown! Right?

It’s actually not too inconvenient to stand, because this location provides a long high bar to do so as you people watch those jumping in and out of the subway entrance to Penn Station. If there were bar stools here I have a feeling this place would just be a little to cramped as the barista bar is directly behind me. There is some seating in the place (a row in the front) but it probably gets gobbled up once  seat is vacated. Like I said, welcome to Midtown.

This is NYC congestion at its best. And in the hour after 5pm on a weekday all the commuters are heading this way to escape Manhattan simultaneously. In Times Square the crowds are touristy so they’re mostly wandering like sheep looking up at the lights. But here… people have places to be. Lolly-gag in front of someone trying to get home from a long day at work and you’re going to get a mouth full.

Luckily I’ve tucked myself into a tiny corner of this Starbucks to simply observe for the moment. Taking a moment to escape that (even if I’m standing) is the closest I get to a zen moment before I’m back out there pushing and shoving with the best of them.

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NYC Starbucks: 38th & 7th

4 Mar


I would be curious to see the ratio of hot coffee vs. iced coffee based on geography and season. When I lived in Florida I only drank iced coffees. Well, that’s not entirely true. I also drank iced lattes, iced mochas, iced teas, and the occasional frapuccino. In-fact, I was never a “big coffee drinker” until I discovered it over ice. Now, I find myself cringing at the thought of adding any unnecessary ice to my life. I’ve become accustomed to my hot coffee to fight the morning chill. I would suppose the percent of iced beverages in a Canadian Starbucks is significantly less than a Southern California location.

Such are the things a true Starbucks addict is able to ponder.

I’m currently sipping my hot coffee at a Starbucks in Midtown. Technically, this Starbucks is in the Garment District, but since it is so close to the intersection of Broadway and 7th Ave it mostly resembles the Times Square and Theatre District locations. Space is tight. The lines are long. And the morning rush never seems to end. But this Starbucks does have one added perk. Directly beyond the barista bar is a staircase leading to a small seating area that looks over the ruckus of Midtown coffee-traffic.

Little perks such as these are an excellent reminder that Starbucks is just as much a cafe as it is a fast-food chain.

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NYC Starbucks: 39th & 8th

19 Feb


How do you know you’re in the Garment District? Just look for the array of textiles and beading in the shop windows. You’ll know.

New York City is the fashion epicenter of the United States. Young fashion-forward minds flock to New York for many reasons. NYC Fashion Week and the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology are just a few of the siren-like calls that attract those seeking a life in fashion. And at the heart of it all is the small neighborhood known as the Garment District.

I must admit that I don’t have the strongest inclination toward the fashion industry. While I don’t dress haphazardly — at least I hope not — I lack the visionary eye for fashion as an art form. And if you put me in-front of a sewing machine you’ll end up with the fashion equivalent of a finger painting. But still, I have an appreciation for those who can list off designers like family members and take a simple sketch of a design and turn it into reality.

This Starbucks on 39th and 8th isn’t adorned with fabrics nor do I see particularly fashionable people here, but it is certainly surrounded by enough wholesale fabric shops. When I first walked in I was initially disappointed by the lack of space and seating. Then I spotted a small stairwell behind the barista bar. Up the staircase exists a split-level seating area equipped with dozens of tables and chairs for all to enjoy. Yes, there’s a crowd up here, but it’s certainly not overcrowded, and there’s enough space between each table to spare you from claustrophobia that’s so common with NYC dining.

But every Starbucks has its flaw. And this one’s is its lack of power outlets. There are literally none on the second floor. In fact, what were once outlet plugs are now simply metal slabs. It’s such a tease — you know there’s power beyond it, but you have no way of attaining it. I have two theories for this unusual find. Theory #1 is that people were attempting to make this Starbucks their home, and cutting off the outlets was the only way to keep the crowds down. Theory #2 is that this particular location is a part of grass roots anti-technology movement, and cutting off the outlets is an attempt to get people to bring a book in place of a laptop.

Despite the lack of outlets, this location still has an excellent environment. I would even recommend it as a great place to hold a study group (or any kind of informal meeting), and that’s not something I can say about most Starbucks in the city.

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