It seemed inevitable that the familiar green Starbucks sign appeared in late February on 37th Avenue near 78th Street, across the street from the Jackson Heights Post Office, here in this working-class, diverse neighborhood that now attracts white professionals enamored of its multicultural charm and its proximity to Manhattan, but without Manhattan rents.
Also inevitable was the familiar caffeinated debate: Did the arrival of the corporate chain signal the bland-ification of another special city neighborhood, one whose exotic feel came from for its Babel of languages, turbaned residents and streets lined with mom-and-pop stores selling Santeria supplies and saris; immigration services and Bollywood videos; nightclubs offering dances with women for $2 apiece.
Frothing Over a Starbucks in Little Colombia
Residents here in Little Colombia take their coffee seriously. There are dozens of coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries whose operation largely revolves around the big espresso machine behind the counter, continuously pumping out strong, dark coffee, and sputtering steam into frothy pitchers of milk for café con leche, strong with lots of frothy milk and heavy on the sugar. The stuff the Colombians swear by rarely costs more than $1 and doesn’t come in a tall, green-and-white cardboard cup.
So it was a somewhat puzzling news release put out by the office of Assemblyman Jose R. Peralta, who helped persuade Starbucks to take a chance on Jackson Heights, part of his district.
In the release, Mr. Peralta said he “lobbied rigorously” for the new branch, which he called “the culmination of several years of work” by him. He said the new Starbucks would “provide superior tasting coffee” and “provide the type of product that the community deserves.”
“The community should not have to settle for less because it deserves the best,” Mr. Peralta said in the release.