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.
Today I pretended to be a professional working in the field of internet security just so I could sneak a peek at one of NYC’s most isolated Starbucks. I’m referring to the small Starbucks stand inside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center off of 11th Avenue in Midtown. What you see pictured above is an enormous glass plated convention building right near the Lincoln Tunnel to Jersey.
I’ve been staring at that one isolated dot on the Starbucks App for quite some time — wondering exactly what was all-the-way out there on 11th avenue besides gas stations and drive-thru McDonalds. And as I approached the massive convention center on my Citi Bike, it seemed weird that I’d never spotted this building before. Albeit it is in Hellsea — the neighborhood of traffic jams and construction — but it’s also right up against the West Side Highway in an area I’ve biked up and down countless times. How’d I miss the giant glass building?
Once I parked my Citi Bike at the corner of 34th and 11th — very convenient, btw — I followed someone with a conference badge that looked like he knew where he was going. Once inside I was surrounded by hundreds of ISC East convention-goers. I had done some research of the conference and found out that it was all about internet security and cutting-edge programs to keep businesses and programs safe. So, not exactly my cup of tea, and clearly I did not take the steps to register to attend. So I walked around and tried to look like I belonged. First I stumbled upon a small food stand that was serving coffee out of white Starbucks cups as well as some sandwiches and pastries. An amateur may have been fooled by this, but I knew this was no corporate or licensed Starbucks, just as I knew I there was one in the building somewhere, and I was going to find it.
So I continued to wonder until a security guard asked me for my conference badge. I played dumb and asked her where the Starbucks was, but she didn’t know. Finally I found two gentleman with authentic Starbucks drinks in their hands and they informed me the Starbucks was on the other side of the building. So I cut around the registration line, bypassed more security guards, breezed by several construction teams — the convention center is apparently under renovations — until I finally spotted the Starbucks branded coffee stand in a mostly deserted area of the building. There was no line — even though stanchions were set up — and the baristas were eager to take my order. I then found a small cafeteria/seating area one floor down from the Starbucks and sat for a moment to enjoy my iced coffee before vacating the Javits Center entirely.
Obviously, this is not the kind of Starbucks that any normal tourist or NYC resident will be interested in visiting. It’s far too isolated from the rest of Manhattan and not easily accessible to anyone not going to a convention of some sort. Still, it is a licensed Starbucks and I had to see it for myself.
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.