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Tag Archives: Shopping

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: 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: 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: 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: 33rd & 6th (Manhattan Mall)

29 Jul

33rd and 6th Starbucks

New York City is known for some of the best shopping opportunities in the country. However, one thing NYC is not known for is its malls. After all, this isn’t Minnesota. Where other cities rely on malls to bring the people and retail chains together, here in Manhattan, clothing stores and specialty shops can thrive without the confines of a shopping mall.

However, there is at least one mall on the island of Manhattan that I’ve stumbled upon, and that mall, of  course, happens to have a Starbucks in it.

The Manhattan Mall is just south of Herald Square and rests in the shadow of the gigantic Macy’s. It consists of your typical, run of the mill mall stores like Victoria’s Secret, JC Penney’s, Express and Aeropostale, but is lacking the typical mall food court. The mall is typically flooded with Midtown tourists and a younger crowd of high school mall-rats with nothing better to do — oh the memories!

The Starbucks is located on the first floor near the entrances on both 33rd and 6th Avenue. Unlike some mall Starbucks that I’ve seen in my day, this one doesn’t have a seating area or separate lobby at all. It was literally built directly on top of the mall tile below the escalator to the second floor. It almost looks like a pop-up Starbucks — like they could clear out at any moment without a trace of ever being there.

I would say I’d only recommend this Starbucks to someone up for some serious mall shopping, but then I really wouldn’t recommend coming to Manhattan to shop at a mall.

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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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