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.
Fall simply does not last long enough here in NYC. It’s only early November and already we’re in the 30s with the threat of snow next week. Obviously that’s the latent Floridian in me talking, but still… Brrr!
I’m currently concealed from the cold drinking my tall hot coffee at the Starbucks on 49th and 7th. Although, it’s technically north of Time Square, it’s still surrounded by the bright lights and hype of the area. The crowd is just as touristy here as it is on 42nd street, and the lines are no shorter. In fact, at the moment I can’t really make out the difference between those waiting to use the single restroom and those waiting for their drinks. They all stew in a still silence.
Also notable on this trip… there seems to be a group of pirates gathering in one corner of this Starbucks. It started with one. Then two. Now I’m sitting across from three fully dressed pirates. Perhaps they make money taking pictures under the bright lights, or maybe this is just a group of guys attending a very late Halloween party.
While I still hold the belief that no Starbucks in NYC is typical, I will admit that this one cannot help resemble every other Times Square Starbucks. It’s bursting with crowds. The baristas move slow simply because they’re consistently overwhelmed. The restroom line is a mess. And 50 percent of the people using the seating — if there is any — have made no purchase.
Still, if you like high energy environments, this very well could be the Starbucks for you!
I know what you’re thinking. It’s already the sixth of November, and I’ve only visited two Starbucks so far. I’ve less than 60 days left in the year — time is running out — and here I am slacking. Well, maybe I’m the only one thinking that, but I promise my commitment to the cause is stronger than ever. I just happened to have some friends from Florida visiting for the Halloween weekend, and obviously they wanted to see more of NYC than the insides of various Starbucks.
To kick things back into gear, I decided a trip to a Time Square Starbucks would do the trick. And I’ve had my eye on the Starbucks within The Marriott Marquis lobby for quite some time. Before I describe the Starbucks, let me say how grand this hotel is. No — it’s not grand as in pretentiously opulent — it’s just impressive. The location. The glass elevators. The views from the hotel rooms. The accommodations. The crowds. Everything. It’s very high energy and things don’t really calm down in the lobby until after 4am — don’t ask me how I know that. I will also add that a friend once got their luggage stolen from the lobby when they were checking in. So be careful.
As for the Starbucks… It is located on the southeast side of the building. It has a street entrance on 45th street as well as a glass door leading into the Marriott’s lobby. There’s no seating inside nor is there a restroom dedicated to Starbucks. Fortunately, there is a standing bar that wraps around the glass paneled exterior. This way, visitors can stand in the warmth of the Starbucks while they gaze out the window at The Minskoff Theatre (home to The Lion King) and Junior’s (a giant NYC diner that attracts thousands of pre/post theatergoers). I recommend trying Junior’s grilled cheese!
Just yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by a Midtown Starbucks on 53rd & Lexington that was both welcoming and spacious. Today, I’m thrown deeper into bewilderment as I sit at a Time Square Starbucks that is neither crowded nor small.
The Starbucks on the corner of 45th and Broadway is just a few steps away from what is arguably the heaviest tourist crowd in the country, yet sitting inside you would never suspect it. Sure, the crowd ebbs and flows, but there always seems to be an available chair or two. There’s even a set of comfy chairs in the front seating area. My only theory is that this Starbucks is protected by the fact that it is on 45th and not Broadway itself. Most caffeine craving sightseers simply never hear the siren’s call.
I could spend more time theorizing over why this Starbucks is the way it is. But I’d rather just take some time to enjoy it while I sip my Chocolate Chai Tea Latte.
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.
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.
Finding a large Starbucks, equipped with plenty of seating and space to spread out, in Manhattan is rare. But finding one in Midtown, Manhattan can seem like playing the lottery and winning the jackpot. Anyone else go in for the 600 mill last week? This guy did! I bought my first lottery ticket ever, and no numbers matched in any of the positions. It was like I drew the inverse of the winning ticket, and it made it seem like I should owe money instead of win any.
This Starbucks on 51st & Broadway is unique not only in its large size, but it also has a faded red awning that surrounds the building instead of the typical green or black ones. Inside, there are two seating areas, two bathrooms, and a barista bar equipped with the Clover — for those of you who like their coffee freshly pressed. While it is not in the heart of Times Square, it is only four blocks north and is still surrounded by theaters and congesting groups of tourists. Lots of hotels also exist in this area just north of the Square.
This location may not be the best in the city. But when it comes to the Theatre District, it’s certainly the best I’ve seen so far.