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Tag Archives: Central Park

NYC Starbucks: 86th & Columbus

16 Aug

86th and Columbus Starbucks

Life has a natural symmetry… a way of balancing things out. Yesterday, I visited one of the worst Starbucks in Manhattan and today I’m sitting at what is arguably one of the best.

The Upper West Side Starbucks on the corner of 86th & Columbus is roughly the size of three regular NYC Starbucks. I actually passed by the entrance on my way to grab lunch and as I kept walking I noticed that I was still passing by windows that belonged to the Starbucks. It just goes on and on.

The neighborhood surrounding this Starbucks consists of nice restaurants with outdoor seating, coffee shops (other than Starbucks, that is), a few delis and, of course, Central Park to the east.

Inside, the Starbucks has two seating areas equipped with sofas, comfy chairs, tables-for-two and a few larger tables as well. The decor is nice; including a curving mural wall, hanging mirrors, pictures and even some white pillars on display in the window. The lighting is a little dim but not too bad. But, what I think is most impressive about this Starbucks is the lack of a crowd. I’ve been here for quite some time, and there has always been a few seats available — comfy seats at that! There’s even open outlets.

I could go on and on about how much I like this Starbucks. But I’d rather spend a little more time enjoying it instead of writing about it.

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NYC Starbucks: 57th & 6 1/2

18 Jun

57th and 6 1/2 Starbucks

Who knew there was a 6 1/2 Avenue in Manhattan? 

Okay, okay… so it’s not actually an avenue — more so a crosswalk, but still spotting the street sign today was a pleasant surprise. It’s like the Platform Nine and Three-Quarters of NYC. And since this Starbucks is placed on the south side of the crosswalk, it must be a magical Starbucks indeed.

If you’re looking at the image above and thinking something looks familiar — you’re probably right. The One57 building (which stands directly across from this 57th street Starbucks) is the same one that received national headlines when its construction crane snapped during Hurricane Sandy last year. I remember trying to cut through the area a few days after the storm only to be greeted with road barriers. That massive crane hung limp over 57th street for over 10 days at least. The building is still under construction and is slated to be Manhattan’s tallest condo skyscraper. 

As for the Starbucks across the street… it’s just so-so. Although there is not nearly the crowd I was expecting, it lacks the proper seating accommodations to adequately fill the space. There is a row of tables-for-two in the front and a community table across from the barista bar. It’s also larger than I suspected — not complaining — with only one bathroom and mostly covered up power outlets.

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NYC Starbucks: 63rd & Broadway

30 May

63rd and Broadway

I used to live at 63rd street on the Upper West Side when I first arrived in NYC, yet I never came across this Starbucks before this week. Just a block away from Lincoln Center (and all the theatrics that come with it), this Starbucks is definitely in a prime location. It’s also only two blocks away from Central Park and just north of Columbus Circle.

Location – of course – isn’t everything. This Starbucks happens to have a very accommodating interior as well, with a long, expansive lounge and multiple arrangements of seating. You can grab a seat at the window, sit at the cushioned bench bordering one wall, plant yourself at the communal table in the center of the store, or even find a spot in a little seating nook that is pushed off to one side of the building.

Today – however – I chose to make Central Park my ultimate destination. And can you blame me? Temperatures soared to 90s this afternoon – so far the year’s high. Also, I had the advantage of having this weekday off while most are cooped up in offices under florescent lighting. Because of this, Sheep’s Meadow (the largest and greenest area in the park) was barely occupied. So I was spared the hundreds of frolicking children and fellow sun-bathers. It was just me, the sun, and an iced coffee.

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NYC Starbucks: 58th & 6th

26 May

58th and 6th

The Starbucks on 58th & 6th Avenue is directly south of Central Park. This beauty comes with a burden: the smell of horse sh*t.

It’s simply everywhere in the area. Those adorable horse-drawn carriages are cute and are no-doubt a treat for tourists and romantics alike, but they really have made that whole area smell to no end.

Luckily, we have places like Starbucks to dive into to avoid the stench. Unfortunately, the touristy crowd from the nearby hotels seems to haunt this location. So, I did what any other self-respecting New Yorker would do. I got my coffee to go and took to the park. Of course,  I lingered just enough to take in the scene.

This Starbucks would be a disaster if it were any smaller. It really is hit with a ton of people — both looking to stay and looking to just use the restroom. Luckily it’s long enough to contain the crowd and even seat most of them. There is even additional stools pulled up to the back portion of the barista bar. The lines were long, but I have a feeling this Starbucks sees its biggest crowds on sunny weekend days like today.

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NYC Starbucks: 73rd & Columbus

12 May

Starbucks on 73rd and Columbus

If the neighborhoods of Manhattan were competing in a beauty pageant, I feel the Upper West Side would take it by a landslide. Not only does it border Central Park, but it has some of the prettiest buildings and unique architecture (take note of some of the street art and statuary I captured above). It’s less congested, and you can take your time to walk slowly and window shop without becoming a barrier to the go-getters of NYC.

As a gay man, I often tend to look at the city through a rainbow colored lens. The “gay scene” in Manhattan has been on a steady migration ever since the days of Stonewall (1969). Over the past 40 some odd years, the gays have been slowly working their way up the west side of the island. From the West Village to Chelsea to Hell’s Kitchen. You can see the remnants of this slow migration in slug-like trail of stereotypes: The Village houses the “old gays” while Chelsea is for the “muscle daddies” and HK is for “the youngins.”

Always being a forward thinking person, this train of thought has driven me to the conclusion that the Upper West Side will be the next big gay neighborhood within the next 20 years. The proof is in the past and present. As Chelsea bars begin to close and reemerge in HK, the same thing is bound to happen as rent in HK continue to rise. Also since the city was built up — with the northern neighborhoods being newer than the south — there is more room to spread out here.

Building on this stereotype even further, this inevitable migration of gay men with their expendable incomes will certainly lead to more Upper West Side Starbucks. I really hope you can read the jest in my voice here, people!

This Starbucks on 73rd & Columbus is a good example of why I have not grown bored of visiting Starbucks after Starbucks here in Manhattan. Every now and then I stumble upon one that is distinctive enough to keep me pushing forward on my coffee-colored journey.

This location is small but brewing with charm. It’s angled, glass-paneled walls and dark espresso decor attracted me immediately. Then I saw the little seating area separated by a mirrored half-wall and the adorableness factor of this location increased considerably. I believe this to be the first open mirror I’ve seen at any Starbucks so far. Although the restroom line runs long, I still recommend this as a homey and brightly lit Starbucks to spend some time in while on the Upper West Side.

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NYC Starbucks: 81st & Columbus

10 Feb

81standcolumbus

This weekend I received a birthday present from New York City in the form of a blizzard.

The word blizzard may not be a friendly term to most, but as a recovering-Floridian, this weekend was a unique and enjoyable experience. The city slowed, and the people took a moment to chill — literally. Central Park is currently a winter wonderland of snow covered trees, sledding children, and lovers walking hands entwined.

My explorations in Central Park led me to the Upper West Side and the Starbucks on the corner of 81st & Columbus. One of Manhattan’s most affluent neighborhoods, the UWS is juxtaposed by its equivalent across the park — the Upper East Side. Both residential neighborhoods — the UWS is considered to house the artistic and cultural, while the UES  is home to the commercial and business crowd. One of the most notable features that I’ve seen in this neighborhood is the contrasting colors of the residential facades. They go from white, to red, to green, and back again in a close proximity that really highlights the gorgeous architecture of each.

This particular Starbucks reflects the Upper West Side affluence quite well. Filled with comfy chairs and evenly spaced seating, this location attempts to defy the cramped NYC culture, and spaced evenly between the 1-Train and Central Park  its in a prime location. The maple wood decor is also a pleasant contrast from most dark-espresso locations in the city. But don’t just take my word for it, come see it yourself.

Believe it or not — personal space is actually possible here!

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