If your experience in New York doesn’t stretch back more than two decades, then you’ve never known a time when the city didn’t have multiple Starbucks stores in almost every neighborhood.
“At 3,000 square feet, this is the largest of the company’s 318 stores and also one of the largest coffee bars in the city,” wrote Florence Fabricant in her New York Times column on April 27, 1994.
That writeup didn’t capture the conflicting emotions many New Yorkers felt about having Starbucks descend on the city.
“When the store at 87th Street welcomed its first caffeine-charged customers in April 1994, national chains and upscale retailers and restaurants were not common in that part of the Upper West Side,” stated a New York Times article from 2003, the year the first store closed.
Starbucks “stirs conflicting feelings among people who live near their branches,” another Times article from 1995 said.
“Some see the coffee bars as promising signs of upscale development and badges of sophistication. Others are put off by the sprawling uniformity of Starbucks stores and fear that they may threaten the distinctive character of old-time establishments in their areas.”
Twenty years later, the opening of a Starbucks branch can still whip up the same opinions.
[photo: a Starbucks in the East 20s, one of 283 in the city]