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NYC Starbucks: 31st & 7th

31 Dec

31st and 7th Starbucks

Today is the day. The Starbucks on 31st and 7th Avenue is the last Starbucks I’ve yet to visit in Manhattan. This is the 20th Starbucks I’ve rated in the month of December and the 208th I’ve rated in 2013. Whoa. It’s been quite a ride. But I’ll reflect more on that tomorrow. For now I still need to spill the T on this Midtown Starbucks.

Surprisingly, there’s not much dirt to dish. This is one of the few impressive Starbucks in the heart of Midtown, Manhattan. This Starbucks is neither cramped, narrow nor closet-like. It actually has a large downstairs lobby and plenty of additional seating in its upstairs seating loft. Besides the typical coffee pictures on the walls, there is plenty of unique decor such a mural of gears and NYC public transportation near the front entrance. There’s even giant coffee bags resting atop the shelves of Starbucks merchandise. One of the baristas informed me the Starbucks was remodeled just a few years ago, so I have to assume that is when all this nifty decor arrived.

On the negative side, this Starbucks does attract a pretty hefty crowd. I had a momentary wait before I could sit upstairs and some have come and left without finding a seat at all. Also, the once available upstairs power outlets have been covered up and the WiFi is a tad on the slow side. So if you’re coming to do some work on your laptop, you may want to bring a full battery and some patience — or possibly a screwdriver. The lighting is also slightly on the dim side, but I think that’s part of the design theme.

So there you have it. That’s the Starbucks on 31st and 7th in a nutshell. See more details below, and check back tomorrow for my final reflection on Starbucks, blogging and this great city called New York.

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NYC Starbucks: 53rd & Park

17 Dec

53rd and Park Starbucks

Today I visited my 200th Starbucks for this blog.

100 Starbucks ago, I was sitting at Grand Central Terminal, half-way through my endeavor and somewhat optimistic that I could accomplish the task at hand. 100 Starbucks before that, I sat down at my first Starbucks on 52nd & 8th Ave and — quite frankly — had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here I am. 200 Starbucks into the blog and less than 10 away from visiting all the Starbucks in Manhattan. I’ll drink to that.

The Starbucks on 53rd & Park Ave is actually located inside a privately owned public seating area called Park Avenue Plaza. It’s just west of Park, and there are entrances both on 52nd and 53rd. The Starbucks is not a distinct store, but a kiosk style Starbucks located in the northeast corner of the space. There are office buildings above and other features include a book store, public restrooms, a children’s winter play place and a waterfall wall (pictured above).

Unfortunately, this Starbucks does not offer WiFi, so if you’re coming here to get out of the cold, bring a book not a laptop. Also come early. Although the space is available 7-days a week until 10pm, the Starbucks is only open until 6:30pm on weekdays, which only makes sense. After all, it’s not like there isn’t another Starbucks just a few yards west on 53rd street.

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NYC Starbucks: 48th & Lexington

11 Dec

48th and Lexington Starbucks

Before I go into the elaborate — cough cough — details of the Starbucks on 48th and Lexington, I want to address my brief hiatus.

I was in Vegas!

No really. One of my best friends turned 30 this past weekend, and we thought there would be no better way to welcome Gay Death — as some call it — then to take it to Las Vegas. This was my first time out there, and I won’t bore you with how I managed to escape with a $30 profit on the slot machines, how we ended up taking a Cirque du Soleil style gym class, or our belaboring flight delays. But I would like to mention the state of Starbucks in that city.

Literally, before I left the airport I had passed two Starbucks coffee stands within the terminals. And once we got to The Strip it became pretty obvious that most every hotel/casino had at least 1 or more Starbucks inside. Here I thought Vegas ran on cigarettes, alcohol, and blind hope, but apparently Starbucks coffee has its role as well. Also worth mentioning is that all the casino Starbucks I visited were definitely licensed stores. Sometimes the pastries varied and not all took the Starbucks app as a form of payment. Still… it was pretty neat seeing how Starbucks is embedded in the flashing lights of that city.

Now that I’m back, I’m determined to dive right in and finish off the remaining Starbucks I’ve yet to visit in NYC.

The Starbucks pictured above is on the corner of 48th and Lexington and is attached to The Lexington — a boutique Marriott hotel. It has a street entrance on Lexington and also feeds into The Lexington’s lobby. Essentially, this gives the Starbucks the feel of a small hallway — a coffee scented hallway, that is. It’s really small, has no seating, and no restroom of its own. But one thing it does have is some interesting decor.

Pictured above is one of three identical wall plaques that line the entrance walls of the Starbucks. From outside looking in, this statuary immediately gave me a religious vibe. But I can also see some Greek or Roman attributes as well. Really, I can’t tell what or why these 6 figures represent. But they certainly bring a level of uniqueness to this small Midtown location.

If you’re staying at The Lexington or in the area you should check it out — unless you’re strong proponent of the separation of church and Starbucks.

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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: 42nd & 8th

29 Nov

42nd and 8th Starbucks

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.

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