Tag Archives: Grand Central Terminal

NYC Starbucks: 45th & Park

10 Oct

45th and Park Starbucks

I think when Howard Schultz and Starbucks Corporate came up with the idea of paying it forward (#payitforward) at its many stores across the nation they left some kinks in the chain. And they simply didn’t account for what a New York City Starbucks environment is really like. Today alone, I attempted and failed, not once, but twice at paying it forward — or backward, really –at two different Starbucks.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about above, here’s a quick overview. This Monday, Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz released a letter that urged other successful business CEOs to put the pressure on their representatives and end this government shutdown. Did you know Schultz is a Democrat? How rare for such a successful CEO! Anyway… Then Wednesday, Starbucks released information on a three-day promotion in an email stating: “Pay it forward. Get a free coffee.” The concept is simple: Come into Starbucks between Oct 9-11, buy someone else their favorite drink (preferably a stranger), and you receive a complimentary tall coffee for your civility. Simple enough, right?

When I first heard of this promotion, I thought it was the coolest thing. I love the idea of Starbucks attempting to start a small movement of generosity while our government is currently shutdown due to hostility and greed. But when you put the concept into practice, it doesn’t seem to work as well as it was intended.

So my first attempt to pay it forward this morning was thwarted by the simple fact that there was a line in the Union Square Starbucks that was out the door and I was pinched for time. Therefore, no Starbucks for me or any stranger this morning.

My second attempt was at the Starbucks just outside of the MetLife Building on 45th & Park. I walked into this very small Starbucks and ordered my usual grande iced coffee and waited for someone else to come in. Then a gentleman came in by himself while I lingered at the register. When the barista turned his attention to his new customer, I intercepted and told him that I wanted to “pay it forward” and buy this gentleman’s drink. The barista looked confused, so I went on. Aren’t you guys running a promotion to buy someone else a drink? Still — he looked confused, and the gentleman whose drink I was attempting to buy looked even more confused. So the barista asked one of his partners who looked to be the manager on duty. Still — this man looked confused.

The presumed manager went on to tell me that some people have been coming in over the past few days expecting some sort of buy-one-get-one, and he knew nothing about this Pay it Forward promotion. So in the end, the gentlemen whose drink I attempted to buy ended up ordering and paying for 11 dollars worth of food and drinks on his own while I questioned the staff that had no answers for me.

Now, I’m wondering how Starbucks spread the word of this promotion internally? And has anyone had a successful #payitforward experience yet? In New York City? I guess I’ll attempt once more tomorrow.

See below for the details on the MetLife Starbucks on 45th & Park.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & Madison

4 Oct

43rd and Madison Starbucks

I wish I worked in an office building big enough to justify a Starbucks in the lobby. Instead of my caffeine addiction causing me to be late for work (occasionally), I could simply run by my the inter-office Starbucks just before. Assuredly they’d know me and probably have my drink rang up before I could even say something. At least that’s the dream. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for my old creaky elevators and visiting other office Starbucks. Like the one at 335 Madison…

I labeled this location the Starbucks on 43rd & Madison, but from standing on that cross-street you would never know there was a Starbucks inside the towering office building at 335 Madison. You would see the one across the street and probably go there instead. I almost did just that. Then I called this Starbucks’ number (thank Starbucks app!) and found out this Starbucks is deep inside the building. Essentially, unless you work here or are actively seeking this location, you’d never find it.

At first I thought this was a disadvantage to this Starbucks. But after sitting here a while, I began to reconsider. There’s no tourists. No families. No crowds of teenagers or random homeless people. There’s just business men and a few other scattered people who come here for a calm environment. I even saw an interview take place at the table across from me.

Now I feel like I’ve been let in on a secret. This is New York City’s hidden Starbucks, and I just thought you should know.

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NYC Starbucks: 41st & Madison

23 Sep

41st and Madison Starbucks

In an effort to combat my self-absorbed style of blogging (see blog entry below), I’ve decided to make a change. Each time I visit a Starbucks — before I put any effort into writing a post of my own — I will take the time to read some recent entries from other bloggers. I will also start actively looking for some great new blogs to read — and would love some suggestions!

There’s just so much out there. I tend to get wrapped up in my own thoughts and ambitions, when really what I’m doing is depriving myself from the thing that inspires me in the first place: reading.

Time was I would go to Starbucks solely to read. I’d read up on Astrology, read fiction, or even just a study guide for the GRE. Now, I go to write about this and write about that. But if one stops reading, eventually they will run out of topics to comment on themselves.

Also I pledge to tweet more than just pictures of Starbucks! But that’s another issue all in itself.

So what can I say about the Starbucks on the corner of 41st and Madison Ave?

It’s small. It’s very crowded. People would rather stay in here, drink their coffee, and stand then take it to go. It’s design confuses the amateur patron when looking for where the line begins — which I’m sure isn’t fun for the baristas. Also, this Starbucks is almost discrete. It has the Starbucks logo in the windows but no signing on the exterior walls of the building. Perhaps it would draw even more of a crowd, which probably wouldn’t be a good thing.

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NYC Starbucks: 43rd & Lexington (Grand Central)

17 Sep

43rd and Lexington Starbucks

Grand Central Terminal on any day of the week is simply bursting with business men and tourists — both in and out of rush hour. They scamper through the concourse, dive in and out of shops, huddle together when lost and confused, and sometimes just zoom by you in a blur to catch their  train. And, of course, there are two Starbucks inside to further fuel the flames.

I visited the Starbucks in the Biltmore Passage for my 100th blog. Now, I’m in the northeast corner of GST at the self-contained Starbucks off of Lexington Avenue. This location may have its own interior, but unfortunately it is so small that it almost works against the Starbucks. Although there are two entrances — one on Lex and one within the terminal — the lobby is so narrow that when entering from the street it proves difficult to even get to the back of the line. And yes… there’s always a line.

Today is also the first day that I have spotted La Boulange bakery products in a NYC Starbucks. The company purchased this San Francisco based bakery earlier this year and is in the process of bringing La Boulange baked goods to all its locations. I first spotted the pink coffee sleeves and different pastries in California last month, and once I researched La Boulange, I knew it was only a matter of time before they made their way to New York. 

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NYC Starbucks: 44th & Lexington

7 Sep

44th and Lexington Starbucks

Today I did something unprecedented. I attended class on a Saturday morning. Not only does it start at 9am, but it lasts for six hours. You may think my the next few months are looking pretty grim, but alas I’m confident I will survive.

We even had a lengthy discussion about Starbucks today. The class is a PR Writing course, and we spent nearly 30 minutes critiquing Starbucks’ most recent press release announcing the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. Although most of the discussion was aimed toward whether the release was affective or not, we also discussed the cultural significance of Starbucks, its ability to signify the beginning of fall and just how many people care about the return of the PSL. Obviously, I came to Starbucks defense. After all, it was my Venti Iced Coffee that enabled me to stay awake in class this morning.

Now, I sit in the Starbucks on the corner of 44th and Lexington Avenue. From its exterior, I had high hopes for this Starbucks. It’s got a great deal of window space. It’s connected to the gigantic US Post Office. And I could see empty seats through the windows — always a good sign.

Unfortunately, the facade turned out to be a mirage, and this Starbucks is as shallow as a Hell’s Kitchen gay bar. Literally, the barista bar is a mere 5 ft from the front entrance. It expends a good length on either side, but if a line were to form, there’d be a whole lot of bumped shoulders and ‘excuse me’s just to get to the milk and sugar bar. Thankfully, the crowd is light today. But I’m sure this Starbucks takes a beating during the week due to its proximity to Grand Central Terminal.

With no power outlets and no public restroom, perhaps this Starbucks would be better served as a sidewalk concession stand — a NYC drive-through, if you will. No lobby. Simply walk up to the window, place your order, step forward, receive your order, continue down Lexington Avenue. Done deal.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & Park SEC

3 Sep

42nd and Park SEC Starbucks

It’s back — for the 10th year in a row: Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. So it’s official. Fall is here… at least according to Starbucks, it is. Honestly, in past years, I’ve never been the biggest fan of this drink, but it’s been growing on me year after year. Starbucks’ strategy of offering the PSL only during a limited time of year is pretty genius, if you ask me. Twitter is abuzz with #PSL, and half the drinks I’ve heard ordered today are that exactly.

The Starbucks that I’m sitting at — enjoying my PSL — is on the southeast corner of 42nd and Park Ave. It’s just south of Grand Central Terminal, and in one of the busiest sections of Midtown — apart from Time Square and Herald Square, that is.

Currently, I’m sitting in the window, watching as a line of 8+ people wait for a Citi Bike to become available to them so they can get home. Since that’s my ticket home as well, I figured I’ll linger here until that line disappears or I really, really need to use the restroom.

So yeah — obviously this Starbucks has no restroom available for its patrons. It’s small, with limited seating and a decent view of the hurried passersby on their way to the terminal. If you can get one of the few seats this Starbucks offers, then it’s not too terrible a place to hang out. At least it’s good for people watching, if that’s your thing.

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NYC Starbucks: 39th & Park

8 Aug

39th and Park Starbucks

The perfectly placed Starbucks would be one directly on the way from your home to work in the morning. In NYC, thousands of people commute in through Grand Central Terminal each day and walk to their place of business — usually somewhere in Midtown. Therefore, the Starbucks on 39th and Park Ave is probably the go-to Starbucks to hundreds of people each day.

This Starbucks is far enough from the terminal to likely avoid being swarmed but close enough to not be out of anyone’s way. And if it is… luckily this is Midtown, so there’s bound to be another Starbucks in any other direction. It’s also conveniently surrounded by three banks: Capital One, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Inside, the Starbucks is L-shaped with an elevated ceiling and various hanging light fixtures. Most seats are elevated barstools facing the windows, but there is also a cushioned sofa equipped with power outlets on one interior wall.

While most Midtown Starbucks are only bearable enough to get your drink and go, this one I could actually spend some time in.

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NYC Starbucks: 42nd & Park (Grand Central)

12 Jul

42nd and Park Starbucks

For my 100th Starbucks visit for this blog, I wanted to go somewhere special; a significant place in this city. In the end, I decided on Grand Central Terminal.

Not only is this one of the most beautiful and well-traveled locations in Manhattan, but it’s also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. So I decided what better spot to make my 100th Starbucks than this 100 year old masterpiece.

There are actually two Starbucks located in Grand Central. The one I’m sitting in now  is in the Biltmore Passage in the northwest corner of the station. The other is off to the east in the Lexington Passage. The reason I chose the Biltmore Starbucks for my 100th visit is because it’s completely embedded within Grand Central whereas the other has a street exit and pretty much resembles a normal Midtown Starbucks.

Of course, Grand Central contains much more than trains and Starbucks. Did you know there is actually an Apple Store in the Main Concourse? There’s also hundreds of other retail shops, coffee houses, restaurants, bakeries and novelty shops. This place is huge (grand, if you will) and although I’ve never had to catch a train out of here, I’d probably need to arrive extra early.

This Starbucks is both impressive and basic at the same time. I guess you can say it’s a product of its environment. No need for tons of seating or coffee decor in a Starbucks in a train terminal. Instead, this Starbucks has a barista bar twice the size of any other, with two areas to pay and pick up your drinks. The line never appears too long because this Starbucks is much more focused on efficiency than comfort. And it works.

With 100 Starbucks down in the midst of summer, I have hope that I can make it to all the Manhattan Starbucks before the year is up.

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