Tag Archives: Shopping

NYC Starbucks: 57th & Lexington SWC

7 Jul

57th and Lexington SWC Starbucks

Recently, I’ve been interested in comparing Starbucks in Manhattan that are in extremely close proximity to other Starbucks (like on the same exact street corner).

Late last month, I visited a Starbucks on the northwest corner of 56th & Lexington, and now I’m sitting in a Starbucks just south of it on the same street corner.

The Starbucks on the north side of the street was tiny, triangular and could only fit a handful of patrons at once. This Starbucks doesn’t look like much from the outside, but I was surprised that it is actually fairly large. Well — not large — but deep. It’s very narrow, like a railroad apartment, and has just a tiny store front.

Also, this Starbucks gets bonus points for sharing an entranceway with a Psychic parlor. So you can get your caffeine fix and your palm read all in the same place. Or maybe go to the parlor first and they can predict what drink you’ll order.

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NYC Starbucks: 57th & Lexington NWC

27 Jun

57th and Lexington Starbucks

I wish I could say more positive things about the Starbucks on 57th & Lexington. My mother always said if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.

So I guess I will start with the positive. This Starbucks is in a great location. Lexington avenue in this odd mixture of Midtown and the Upper East Side is filled with retail possibilities, good restaurants, and public transportation.

And that’s all the good I have.

Honestly, this is just one of those Get In, Get Out locations. It’s triangular in shape and reminds me of my first NYC apartment that was nothing but this odd hybrid between a kitchen, living room and bedroom doors. There are only  7 stools up against one windowed wall. There’s no bathroom and nothing notable about the decor.

Sometimes a Starbucks is just a Starbucks.

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NYC Starbucks: 55th & Lexington

22 Jun

55th and Lexington Starbucks

The Starbucks on 55th and Lexington doesn’t seem like it stands a chance against the beautiful Saturday afternoon going on right now in the city. I see people jogging, biking, walking hand-in-hand out there in the sun… but in here it is nearly empty. A few people come and go but mostly they go.

This is kind of refreshing since I’m usually fighting to squeeze myself into a seat at a crowded Midtown Starbucks but not today.

There are lots of Starbucks in this neighborhood, which may also contribute to this location’s current vacancy. This one is a few blocks south of some great retail shops on Lexington, but here the area is mostly random restaurants and cheap shops.

Inside there are two seating areas that form a small hall to the barista bar. There are outlets near most every seat and they are each spaced enough so that the place is not overly congested. The decor is simple and there’s just the one restroom in the back. Ultimately, the best thing this Starbucks has going for it is its lack of patrons.

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NYC Starbucks: 58th & Madison

11 Jun

58th and Madison Starbucks

It’s been over 3 months of dedicated Starbucks blogging, but I’ve finally stumbled across another 5-Cup location. The 58th & Madison Starbucks  (b/w Madison and 5th Ave) caught my eye earlier last month. Unfortunately I was in no shape to bang-out a blog at the time but I made a special note to return here another time.

I walked in this morning and was once again impressed by the overall size, style and accommodations provided by this Starbucks. But something else struck me as well — a heat wave. Apparently the AC was on the fritz. Although today’s high 79 degrees, it felt more like 90 degrees inside. Okay, I thought, a minor setback. Luckily the baristas were super apologetic to every guest that complained, and the AC problem was fixed shortly after I arrived.

So what makes this location so special? It’s the impressive styling put into it combined with the size and location. When you walk in, you first enter a decent sized entranceway separated by glass panes. There’s even a tiny bit a seating here. Then as you walk into the main area you can immediately see this Starbucks is larger than most. To your right you’ll spot a seating area composed only of a large ottoman and tree trunk stools. Straight ahead is the monstrous barista bar which counters another large seating area equipped with a communal table and a raised sofa with high tables attached. There are two restrooms in the corner, and the walls are decorated throughout with shelving, mirrors, and Starbucks merchandise (of course).

I can’t say that this is the best one I’ve seen in New York City so far. But I will admit that it was a pleasure to stumble upon a top-notch location such as this one. The fact that it’s technically in Midtown makes this Starbucks even more impressive.

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NYC Starbucks: 17th & 1st

6 Jun

17th and 1st

Sometimes  I need to remind myself that when I conceived the idea for this blog, I didn’t imagine a relentless race through the 200+ Starbucks of Manhattan just to say “I did it!”. The reason I am doing this is so that I can explore this daunting and monstrous island through a familiar setting. If I take a train to a Starbucks in an yet-to-be discovered neighborhood, walk directly into the place and leave 30 minutes to an hour later… what did I discover?

The balance between quality and quantity is hard to achieve. Especially since I can feel my time constrained tighter than a 17th century corset (not that I know what one of those feels like). Sure a lot of the Midtown locations are monotonous and tend to repeat, and I’ve probably tromped through every inch of Chelsea by now. But I need to remind myself to slow down and explore when I come to a neighborhood that’s a little off my beaten path. Like today…

I’m in one of the most unique neighborhoods in Manhattan — if you can even call it a neighborhood. I sit at a Starbucks on the border of Stuyvesant Town, aka Stuytown. This neighborhood is actually a giant private housing community that spans from 14th – 20th street on the east side and holds over 8000 apartment units. It’s privacy is debatable though, considering I was free to roam around at my own leisure. Nevertheless — it’s beautiful, and full of large trees and fenced off grass. Just above Stuytown is Peter Cooper Village, which is basically a continuation of the development, consisting of the same architecture and greenery. Taking a few moments to walk through this neighborhood (even as rain threatened overhead) gave me a pinch more of appreciation of the diversity that NYC offers.

And those Stuytown residents are very fortunate to have an excellent Starbucks on the border of their neighborhood. The Starbucks on the corner of 17th and 1st is both spacious and unique. Hanging on one wall (and pictured above) are spring themed drawings from the 2nd grade students at PS 40. I love seeing such a local presence in a huge corporation like Starbucks. Other features include a long comfy bench (polka-dotted, in fact), window seating, a code-access restroom (sorry passers-by), and an expansive wall mural consisting of coffee cups, a guitar, a globe, and other randomness.

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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: Houston & West Broadway

11 May

Starbucks on Houston and West Broadway

The past two days we have had the temperature reach the 70s here in the city. Summer is coming.

I arrived here in NYC last August as the summer of 2012 was nearing its end. But I still got to experience enough NYC heat to know how to prepare myself this year. Oh yes — I had my fair share of  sweltering subway rides and fritzy AC units. Before moving here from Florida, a friend who had lived in Manhattan tried to warn me.

“The city can get sooo hot, that when you come in from the street you can still feel the city on your skin.”

“Nah, it can’t be that bad.” I had naively stated. “I’m from Florida!”

I remember his words every time I feel this city seep into my flesh. In the winter you get the harsh cold, and in summer you get the damp, dirty heat. Either way, New Yorkers cannot help but wear the city where ever they go.

Well, obviously that heat is not upon us yet. But I was driven to this SoHo Starbucks on this soggy Saturday afternoon because I need to armor myself with shorts, tank tops, and flip flops to combat the impending summer temperatures. This Starbucks is in a great location on the northwest border of SoHo. It still gets a good crowd, but it’s not overwhelmed like the location on Grand & Broadway. Also it’s directly below Washington Square Park, and the distance between is filled with some pretty decent bars and restaurants that mostly cater to the NYU crowd.

It is — of course — Frappuccino Happy Hour, and although this place has a good amount of lines, grabbing a seat wasn’t impossible. With two separate seating areas and even a little bench area in the hall, this location is ready to serve both those grabbing and going and those looking to stay awhile.

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NYC Starbucks: 33rd & 5th

2 May

33rdand5th

Everyone’s heard of Chinatown, but what about Koreatown?

Koreatown is a small Manhattan neighborhood in Midtown. It is just south of the giant Macy’s at Herald Square. This ethnic enclave is only three streets long, but it is simply brimming with culture. Last year I was led to this neighborhood blindly and told to expect one of the best meals of my life. That’s when I was introduced to Korean BBQ and was certainly not disappointed. Traditional Korean BBQ involves a charcoal grill built into your table as fresh meats and veggies are prepared for you table-side. Hibachi is child’s play compared to Korean BBQ. I highly recommend trying it.

But anyway, this blog is about Starbucks, right?

The Koreatown location at 33rd and 5th is a sizable location with just enough seating to quell the masses that pass through its doors. The decor is fairly simplistic and the furnishings are basic, but seating accommodations alone make this an above average location. I’d say come with a friend, a few friends, or just solo. You’ll be able to find a seat within minutes of entering.

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NYC Starbucks: 47th & 5th

23 Apr

47thand5th

I spent the weekend in Washington DC. I think I visited three different Starbucks over the course of my trip, and I must admit I was still shocked at how large and spacious non-NYC Starbucks tend to be. They have space that goes on for days, and seating a-plenty. Not to mention two-gender specific bathrooms. But still — no city in the world can boast as many locations as good ol’ New York, New York.

Everybody that lives or has lived in NYC is aware that space is gold. Space cannot go wasted. And wasted space will only be discovered and then eaten up by something-or-other. But there are some indoor ‘spaces’ in the city that are actually meant to cater to a crowd that means to linger — and no I’m actually not talking about Starbucks.

Scattered throughout the city, exist a few “Public Seating” areas for the general public. Usually filling the bottom floors of large office buildings, these public seating areas are filled with tables and chairs and function as indoor parks, no nature or swing sets required.

This Starbucks on the corner of 47th & 5th is actually directly attached to one of these public seating areas. It has a street entrance as well as an entrance into the seating area. Therefore, one can get there coffee (or whatever) and take it just a few steps to this climate-controlled area. Large groups can meet here with ease without worrying about the limited seating of the over-crowded lounge areas that exist in most Starbucks.

The seating area alone makes this a unique and accommodating Midtown treat.

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NYC Starbucks: Grand & Broadway

7 Apr

GrandandBroadway

I’m back in SoHo. I came for a new pair of sunglasses and ended up with a new shirt and an iced coffee.

By my count there are at least three Starbucks in this small neighborhood. Which makes sense, since this is a shop-til-you-drop kinda neighborhood and caffeine is essential to bargain shopping. I have a love hate relationship with SoHo. I love the boutiques and the flagship stores, but tend to hate the prices and slow paced tourists that clog the street. In Orlando I used to find myself frustrated by the Sunday drivers. Well, in New York we have Sunday strollers — just as aggravating and sometimes more difficult to get around.

This Starbucks on Grand & Broadway is in the thick of SoHo traffic, and it definitely shows the moment you walk in. Just like you must wait in long lines at the fitting room or the check out counter at the Top Shop across the street, you are forced to do the same here.  When I entered both the barista and bathroom line wear 10-15 people deep. Soon after I jumped in line for my iced coffee, the barista bar backed up to the entrance.

Luckily, this Starbucks isn’t a total loss. There’s some cute photography and artwork on the walls, as well as a good amount of seating lining the wall opposite the bathroom. Although it was crowded as can be, most people were waiting in one of the two enormous lines so some empty chairs were scattered about the place.

As with SoHo itself, I’d only advise coming to this Starbucks on a weekday morning or afternoon.

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