Tag Archives: Midtown

NYC Starbucks: 35th & 7th

19 Oct

35th and 7th Starbucks

There is one aspect of each Starbucks that you can’t easily predict by simply looking at it. The quality of its WiFi. Sure you can always log on — unless of course the Starbucks’ Internet is actually down, which happens — technology isn’t perfect. But some Starbucks tend to give me flashbacks to the days of AOL and webpages loading in increments over a minute and a half. Yea, nobody misses those days.

Of course there are some telling signs that the WiFi may be less than impressive: a small location with no seating, a large crowd with lots of laptops, or conversely a large crowd with no laptops at all. Still… you’ll never really know until you attempt to log on.

The Starbucks on 35th & 7th is one that I had a sneaking suspicion from the moment I walked in that the WiFi would be slower than most. Maybe it’s because this is a Midtown Starbucks or because it’s heavily crowded, but somehow I knew the WiFi would be touch and go. What does that mean? Basically — no Youtube videos and Google image search will make you want to punch a baby, which I don’t endorse.

Other than the WiFi, this Starbucks is a mixed bag of lots of good and plenty of bad. It’s in a popular location, much larger than most, has great decor and stays open later than most. Unfortunately, Newton proved long ago that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Meaning this attractive Starbucks in a popular area of NYC can’t help but be bogged down by a huge crowd. Or maybe Kevin Costner said it best in Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.”

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NYC Starbucks: 52nd & Lexington

17 Oct

52nd and Lexington Starbucks

The Starbucks on 52nd & Lexington is located on a small section of 52nd street that has been dubbed Lew Rudin Way. The apples on the street sign made me think he must have been some great educator here in NYC, but as it turns out he was a great landlord instead. Alongside his brother, he headed one of NYC’s oldest real estate dynasties and was a strong civic booster. Doesn’t sound like your typical landlord, right? He died of cancer just after 9/11, and this portion of 52nd street was renamed in his honor in 2002.

The Starbucks on the corner of Lew Rudin Way is impressive for a Midtown location. It even has three outdoor tables right there on the sidewalk. Obviously, this is an added perk that most NYC Starbucks cannot afford; however, the fact that the tables have no barrier what-so-ever from the street crowd is a little unnerving. Plus the WiFi is really shoddy out there.

But never fear, there’s still plenty of seating inside.

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NYC Starbucks: 35th & 5th

14 Oct

35th and 5th Starbucks

Today I’m drinking a tall iced coffee at the Midtown Starbucks on 35th & 5th Avenue. I can’t remember the last time I’ve ordered anything smaller than a grande. Then the other day I realized something; I hardly ever finish my drinks. If I get a venti I drink three-fourths of it. If I order a grande, I only drink most of it. So what difference does 4 ounces make? About 44 cents.

This Starbucks is one of those railroad stores — long and narrow. In fact, it’s so long it almost looks like a hallway. Even the tables and barista bar are pushed off to the side to make room for the through-traffic — which there is a lot of. Want to guess what’s at the end of the hall? That’s right, the single restroom.

At least it’s big enough to handle the massive crowd the comes through it, and being just one block north of all the 34th street retail shops, most guests come with 2-3 enormous shopping bags swinging at their sides. It’s enough to make most New Yorkers run the other way.

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NYC Starbucks: 49th & Madison

11 Oct

49th and Madison Starbucks

The Starbucks on 49th & Madison has a consistent crowd of people coming, going, using the restroom, and sitting a while. For a Starbucks in Midtown, Manhattan its size is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the L-shaped barista bar takes up a lot of the space and the seating is only lining the walls.

It’s location on Madison Avenue brings in a mix of tourists and business people. There’s actually an interview of some sort being conducted at the table next to me. Side note: I think if a potential employer were to ask me to meet at a Starbucks for an interview I would be very excited, and I’d probably ace the interview since I’d be in my natural element as opposed to a stuffy office.

Also, noteworthy. So far in the month of October, I’ve been able to visit and blog about a new Starbucks each and every day. I’m 11 for 11 and hoping to keep this momentum up. With roughly 80 days left in 2013, I’ve got a ton more iced coffees to drink before my mission is complete.

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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: 56th & 6 1/2

9 Oct

56th and 6 1:2 Starbucks

Today I had a Starbucks first in the location on 56th street between 6th and 7th avenue: a barista and customer got in a screaming match that almost escalated into a confrontation.

I don’t want to pick a side here, but honestly, I could tell this particular set of baristas were off from the get-go. They hardly talked to me as I ordered my drink and passed it on to me without saying “Here ya go” or “Have a good day.” 

Then when a woman claimed to have handed them a 20 and received change for a 10 (figures it’d be over money), the entire store had to witness the altercation. The line was backed up. The other baristas were clearly distracted. And it was a mess all around. In the end the woman received her appropriate change, but her husband insisted on an apology, which caused the scene to escalator even further. The couple left shouting and angry. The barista was left wanting to go home…

All in all, I think it comes down to people being employed at a job they don’t like. I saw it dozens of times in the eyes of the cashiers I supervised when I worked at the Target in Brooklyn. I even had one girl walk around her cash register and put her face up to a guest in an attempt to fight her. What I saw in these baristas was the same thing: disinterest and disregard.

I can still hear them arguing in the back of the store right now…

So much for the #payitforward program Starbucks tried to initiate today. Which — btw — I tried to do but of course no body was in line with my when I walked in. Better luck tomorrow!

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NYC Starbucks: 50th & 6th (Rockefeller Center)

8 Oct

50th and 6th Starbucks

I knew there was a Starbucks somewhere near the corner of 50th and Sixth Avenue. But as I paced back and forth, that familiar green siren was no where to be found. Finally, I conceded and asked the door guard at The Radio City Music Hall for help.

“Is there a Starbucks around here?” (A redundant question, I know.)

“Yea — In the subway.”

“Huh?”

Then I literally saw a woman emerge from the Rockefeller subway terminal with a Starbucks cup in her hand. Possibly a coincidence? Obviously, I was in for an adventure.

As I went underground at the corner of 50th & Sixth, I was not greeted with that usual smell of stagnant water and decaying rat that I’ve grown to associate with New York’s subway system. As I continued walking I realized this was more than just a subway terminal… it was a concourse full of food and shopping options underneath Rockefeller Center. Cheers to that!

The Starbucks was easy enough to locate, and I soon found myself inside, in a long line waiting for my usual grande iced coffee. Unlike some of the other food shops in the concourse, the Starbucks is sectioned off by glass paneling, and it’s actually larger than your typical NYC Starbucks. So being underground means nothing, and even though most people came to grab a drink on the go, a lot of people also stayed to take advantage of the Starbucks’ several tables and seating options.

If you would have told me this morning that I would have an enjoyable experience inside a subway terminal Starbucks, I would have asked you to pinch me. Who knew?!

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NYC Starbucks: 44th & Madison

7 Oct

44th and Madison Starbucks

Here’s a small hint to the rating system I have been working with since this blog’s inception. If the only nice thing I can say about a NYC Starbucks is it’s in a good location, then — yea — it’s a 1-Cup Starbucks. Case in point: The Starbucks on 44th & Madison Avenue.

This Starbucks is directly across the best-kept secret Starbucks I visited last Friday. Unfortunately, last week’s Starbucks hides so well, that this one is forced to take the brunt of Midtown traffic — even though it’s much smaller and has one-fourth the seating. The coffee line wasn’t too long, but ironically there was even a line of people waiting for someone to leave the completely occupied seating area.

The only thing this Starbucks has going for it is the fact that there’s no restroom, so obviously, the patrons can’t linger forever.

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NYC Starbucks: 55th & Madison (Sony)

6 Oct

55th and Madison Starbucks

I’ve seen my fair share of unique New York City Starbucks since starting this blog. Adding to that list — and possibly being one of the most interesting Starbucks in the city — is the Starbucks inside the Sony building on the corner of 55th & Madison in Midtown.

This Starbucks is literally inside of the Sony electronics store, blended perfectly in with the speakers and televisions. Most Starbucks within other buildings (e.g. Target and The NHL Store) are clearly separated by either half walls, glass panels or simply different tiles. But here the barista station is directly across from electronics displays and entertainment centers. Signing for the latest Sony speaker is placed directly above Starbucks’ newest blend. One wouldn’t think that coffee and electronics go so well together, but something about this co-branding just works.

The Starbucks is clearly visible from the 55th street as well, so it’s not like you need to be in the market for a new TV to swing by and grab yourself a Pumpkin Spice Latte. Also, there is an expansive indoor public seating area that connects this Starbucks to the street. Here you’ll find a public restroom (enter if you dare), tons of seats and a few other small shops and studios that enter into this lobby. Not to mention natural sun light from the glass paneled ceiling.

So for all you techie-coffee enthusiasts out there, this one is must-see when you come to New York.

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NYC Starbucks: 45th & 5th

5 Oct

45th and 5th Starbucks

While waiting in line at the Midtown Starbucks on 45th and 5th Avenue, I couldn’t help recalling a conversion I had just had with a classmate this morning.

We were discussing the noticeable increase in Starbucks lines and speculating what’s causing it. She suggested that the PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte) is to blame — the increased demand for espresso based drinks has caused people to wait longer in lines. I suggested my weird and elaborate theory of the coffee shop migration patterns of New Yorkers — clearly, still working out the details. Clearly the PSL theory is more plausible.

But standing in the stagnant line a new theory came to me: The Tourist Effect. Simply put, tourists take longer to order; therefore, neighborhoods with more NYC landmarks (Midtown, SoHo, FiDi) are apt to have longer and slower moving lines. I mean no prejudice or xenophobia, but generally tourists are less familiar with the Starbucks menu and more likely to run into a language barrier with their barista. The result: confused baristas, longer lines and frustrated New Yorkers.

The Tourist Effect was in full swing today at this Starbucks. I helplessly watched as the young woman in front of me struggled to place her order and the barista put his best ear forward. You want an iced tea with mocha sauce? That was his best guess and all I needed to know that I’d be here a while longer. But, alas, after a few more trails and errors she was able to order her drink and me mine.

Now I sit here and overhear similar situations play out every 5-10 minutes. And the line just keeps on coming. Luckily, half those who enter are deterred once they realize this Starbucks has no bathroom. And probably this fact alone protects the long teal sofa and high chairs from being overrun with squatters.

Fortunately, this Starbucks has plenty of shopping right outside its doors. You know, just in case you need some retail therapy to help you cope from the stressors of long coffee lines.

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