After nearly seven hours of Black Friday shopping in NYC, my body feels like it just went through a trauma. My feet are swollen like a pregnant woman’s and my back is sore from carrying the baggage I inevitably picked up. Still — it was kind of worth it. And I got to visit a Starbucks along the way.
While most retail stores — and practically everywhere near Times Square — were much more crowded today than usual, I can assuredly say that the Starbucks on 42d and 8th avenue sees this kind of crowd daily. This location is connected to the Regal Cinemas and stays open later than most Starbucks in the city to keep late-night movie goers and passers- by caffeinated.
Inside, this Starbucks is average sized — maybe a little big by Midtown standards — and has a heavy crowd flow. Obviously, it houses as lot of tourists, but it also has a decently sized seating area and a few random bar stool to maintain the crowd. But its most distinctive characteristic is its elaborate decor. Even the Starbucks logo outside is louder than most, but then again, in this neighborhood, your signing needs to be over-the-top to stand out from the hundreds of other flashy and eccentric marketing ploys.
My favorite piece inside the Starbucks is a large eclectic wall mural that takes up most of the wall near the street entrance. It contains random colors, various siren sketches and different quotes about coffee, nature, mermaids and other random stuff. Most of the mural and some of the quotes are pictured above, but my favorite is as follows:
“Come into the water,” the Siren said. “Without water there would be no life. It is water that brews our coffees. Many humans are convinced you know, that there is no life before coffee.”
And — yes — clearly, I am one of those humans. Especially on Black Friday, there would be no life in me without coffee.
One day last month I was walking down 8th Avenue from Columbus Circle — probably thinking about how cold it was getting outside or pondering what I was going to be for Halloween — when I passed by an blatantly brand new Starbucks on 57th & 8th. Not another one! was my first thought. My second being: OMG, look how small it is!
Obviously, I’m the last to complain about more Starbucks popping up in NYC, it’s just that at times it feels like I’ll never be able to visit them all if I can’t keep track of where and when they appear. Luckily, I stumbled by this one by chance. So I quickly made note of it and promised to come back one day. And today is that day.
The reason my second thought was on the size of this Starbucks is because it is perhaps the smallest in Manhattan. Literally I could see the Starbucks in its entirety just by casually passing by on the street. I’m torn whether the Starbucks on 42nd & 6th is a tiny bit smaller or not. Since I’m not about to break out a measuring tape, I’ll call it a tie.
This Starbucks has no seats. No restroom. No available power outlets. But, ironically it does offer Google WiFi. When I arrived there was a young woman perched in the corner, half-sitting on a ledge, typing away on her laptop. She left. So can you guess where I’m at now? Yep — that very same ledge. Obviously, this Starbucks isn’t meant for loitering, but it just goes to show that its meager size won’t stop New Yorkers from lingering.
So far the month of August has truly been a beautiful month here in New York City. The temperature has dropped just enough for midday walks through the city to be bearable , and I no longer break into a perfusive sweat after riding a Citi Bike. Luckily, I have been avoiding the subway as much as possible because I’m sure the underground tunnels are still as scorching as ever.
Today I actually walked directly across the island from 1st avenue, through Central Park, and into the Starbucks on 59th and 9th Avenue. This Starbucks is actually on the corner where 9th Ave becomes Columbus Ave and Hell’s Kitchen turns into the Upper West Side. But if I were to peg this location based on its environment, I’d say it feels much more like an UWS Starbucks. It is a few short blocks south of Lincoln Center and directly underneath Fordham University — a private, Jesuit college here in NYC.
It’s a fairly large and decently crowded Starbucks. It has plenty of seats for patrons (although no padded chairs) and lots of power outlets for those wanting to stay awhile. The walls are painted an olive green color and accented with natural wood pillars that help break up the inside and give it the impression of being even bigger than it actually is. A lot of people seem to come here to read or write, and I can see why; the large paneled windows, surrounding brownstone buildings and overlooking trees on Columbus Ave make this Starbucks’ environment a little more serene than most in the city.
I’ve passed by the Starbucks on 42nd and 9th avenue several times, and although never entering, I knew what I would most likely rate this Starbucks months ago. That’s because its exterior wall is nothing but paneled glass. Each time I passed, I could see exactly what was going on inside.
Essentially, this Starbucks is a small space with crowded tables, a consistent crowd and little room for much else. I could even tell there was no restroom just by a passing glance. Although it’s well enough removed from Time Square to not have a giant crowd shuffling by outside, it still attracts enough of a crowd. It’s close to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and just north of the traffic nightmare known as Hellsea.
I’m not saying grabbing a seat here would be impossible. Just prepare to wait a while — or arrive early. This bad boy opens up at 6am, Monday-Friday.
Today my journey brought me to the Starbucks on 33rd and 10th avenue.
I love Hells Kitchen and adore Chelsea, but there is this 10-15 block cross-section between the two neighborhoods that I’ve concluded is one of the ugliest neighborhoods in Manhattan. It’s picked up the name Hellsea, and I couldn’t agree more. Not only is it covered in construction and jammed with traffic most hours of the day, but there is ultimately no real reason for one to venture into this part of the city unless your fleeing by way of the Lincoln Tunnel. It doesn’t look residential and the few restaurants I passed by failed to stand out.
This Starbucks is actually located in the lobby of the Associated Press’s headquarters. While most lobby-oriented Starbucks are squashed and unimpressive, this one is actually a decent looking cafe. It has glass panels separating it from the entrance to the AP, and could just as easily be a solo-location.
I arrived just in time to catch the 5pm mass-exodus from the offices of the AP. Although several caffeine deprived reporters dived in for a quick pick-me-up, the line never grew too long and most left, leaving the seats vacant. If I worked for the AP I fear half my salary would be drained at this 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.
If I had to choose right now, then I would say this location is my “Go-To” Starbucks. Perhaps the purpose of this entire blog is to find my Go-To Starbucks in NYC?
Having a Go-To Starbucks is an important thing. Back in Orlando, my go-to was in a little nook of Downtown Orlando called Thornton Park. It was biking distance from my house and had an inviting inside as well as a splash of outdoor seating that overlooked the cobblestone road. I spent countless hours there doing coursework, studying for the GREs, meeting with friends, reading on astrology, or even just people watching. A good friend and I actually coined the term “Go-To Starbucks” when we new that was where we needed to go to either catch up or talk about something a little more serious.
This Starbucks is actually directly between 8th and 9th avenues, but since there is another Starbucks on 49th & 8th, I figured this one can occupy the 9th avenue side for clarity’s sake. By distance alone, this is the closest Starbucks to my apartment. Proximity is very important when determining your Go-To. Also, since this Starbucks is not directly on an avenue, it gets less of a crowd than most, so seating is never hard to find (another important factor). But this Starbucks’ greatest asset is the amazing outdoor plaza that cuts between 49th and 50th streets. Equipped with public seating, a gorgeous fountain, and plenty of greenery, it makes for a perfect sunny afternoon hangout. If only the Starbucks WiFi reached there!
There is one threat to this Starbucks’ grand status, and that is the fact that tour buses tend to line up on 49th right outside the courtyard. Weekends or weekdays, they don’t discriminate. When there’s a tour bus outside, the tourists invade this Starbucks like a scene from Mars Attacks. Lengthening all the lines and consuming all the seating. Luckily, if a tour bus is outside I know to go to one of the 3 other locations within a 2-block radius.
The Starbucks on 43rd and 9th is another victim of construction shielding draped around the exterior. That’s two in a row! I know NYC is forever changing — updating, evolving, improving (maybe?) — but at times it seems like the entire city is covered by one monumental construction awning.
Earlier this year, my street was being torn up in order to get new piping — or at least that’s what I assumed. For at least 2 weeks we would find a notice on our building’s door saying that we would be without water for an 8 hour period starting at 8am. No showers — no flushing toilets — just bottled water to brush your teeth with. Thankfully my gym membership allowed me to maintain a normal schedule.
I was reminded of this when I entered this Starbucks and noticed a sign on the door that stated the Starbucks will be closing at 8pm tonight and would resume operating hours tomorrow. Then, on top of that, the 1 restroom has an out of order sign on the door. Strike 2, I think. Then as I take in my surroundings a bit further, I spot the covers on the power outlets. Strike 3.
Since 2 of these things could just be happenstance flaws, I’m reserving some judgement. After all, I was able to grab a seat right away, and the environment is welcoming enough to keep me here while I write. And one of the best things about Starbucks in NYC… There’s surely another one around the corner.
The Starbucks on 57th & 8th is the emptiest location I’ve seen since beginning this blog. Yes it’s 9pm on a Friday night, but still… there are plenty of Starbucks here in Manhattan that have long lines at this very moment.
This Starbucks’ eerie emptiness is probably due to its vague placement on the NYC grid. It’s right near Columbus Circle but just south of it. It’s a few blocks from the Theatre District but several other Starbucks are much more convenient for the Broadway-goers. And it’s pushed a little too far north to attract any of the crowds from Hell’s Kitchen.
This is all bad for business — but for patrons that need a place to sit and study/read/write/etc, this Starbucks is prime caffeinated real-estate. If only it had a few more power outlets…