Friday, April 4, 2008

Starbucks invades Jackson Heights

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 cafĂ© 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.


Stefan said...

How bad could it be having a Starbucks in your neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

One probably isn't bad. But they tend to sprout like 4 or 5 in a 10 block radius.

georgetheatheist said...

I'm waiting for a Barnes & Nobles bookstore. And one on Steinway Street too! (BTW, the latter has a Starbucks already.)

Anonymous said...

Starbucks comes with their
landmark district's dark red signage.

They're getting to snotty
in J.H. these days to get on down and go into a Colombian coffee shop
for some real good brew.

Everybody "loves" (?) diversity
here in the hood
as long as it doesn't move in
right next door to them.

Wasn't that the purpose of the creation of the J.H. historic district to begin with....
so that the "colorful" folks south of Roosevelt Ave. didn't invade their precious northern environs?

Anonymous said...

What a "fine" compliment to
"The Happy Kitchen"offering
to yuppies ("Jack/yups")
what passes for Asian cuisine!

Come to Flushing J.S.
for the real nitty-gritty
Taiwanese pig gut soup!

Anonymous said...

starbucks in jackson heights isn't too bad. i've lived here since i was in high school (moved from woodside), and one of the things i wished we had was a place to go for coffee. the colombian coffee places just didn't do it for me. in any case, another neighborhood coffee shop just opened a few blocks away from starbucks (espresso 77), so if one is not a starbucks fan, one can go there or to another of the older coffee shops. as for me, i'm just glad i don't have to leave the neighborhood to get coffee from someplace besides a dunkin donuts.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your highlighting the required language for anything relating to Queens.

It reminds me of articles that used to come out of the former Soviet Union, loaded with a sorts of clunky terms that written by some hack under the direction of the party.

Typical of a one party state that imposes its branding on a population.

All hail fearless leader!

Anonymous said...

Off Topic, Can't the NY Times hire someone who can straighten a damn photo? Takes about 8 seconds to do.

Anonymous said...

Anyone check Peralta's campaign contributions?

HBOOGIE said...

I've lived in Jackson Heights for over 25+ years and have been drinking coffee for as long as i can remember(not colombian either). But, what the colombian coffee shops forgot to do or what they need to do to gather more business is to promote the authenticity of the coffee and discuss/portray what separates their coffee from any other region. Speaking on regions, come up with a map or breakdown as to where in colombia coffee is grown and created, form an alliance with someone in Colombia.

Coffee houses and distributors do this, see Dallis Coffee based in Queens on Atlantic.

Most, if not all of the coffee shops in queens have below average folgers grade coffee, IMHO. As much as STARBUCKS, they are selling an experience more so than the actual coffee.

The idea of a "STARBUCKS" was a necessity to the neighborhood for a long time. Jackson Heights may be diverse with its people, but the uncreativity when it comes to businesses is kind of embarassing. How many ABC discount stores does 82nd need ? how about a book store ? what about a fedex/kinkos ? a real Japanese rest -- Happy Kitchen does not count..

i can continue on, but in short; Yay for starbucks, i could get use to seeing trust-fund wannabe hipsters wearing dirty stan smiths for the sake of property value increasing.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful it is to know that the people we elect to represent us are doing such important work. Very inspiring. Good to know I don't have to worry about the economy, housing, medical costs, falling cranes, etc. - We have Starbucks!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've lived here about 22 years and have longed for a place I can sit and have coffee with friends. A couple have come and gone. It's only recently we've gotten anything really good like Lety's (has good coffee and amazing pastries) and more recently Espresso 77 (not so good pastries but good coffee and a nice space) I've never liked Starbucks and don't really like what they represent but we need to face it, the hood is changing. The kind of people coming do like Starbucks. Like the rest of the city. It's all gentrifying, and like it or not, we will too.

Anonymous said...

they put starbuk$$ there to accomodate the yuptards
that feel intimidated to enter those ethnic enclaves.
user friendly,ya know ? the same way they painted the politically correct cartoon/graffitti style "murals" on our amtrak underpasses---less threatening to THEM.
you know the politial whores begged starbuk$ to come into jackson heights.
what's wrong with starbuk$ ? who the hell needs THEM and their elite clients sitting there with their laptops and 3dollar coffees ?
bring back my neighborhood,complete with the bucket of blood corner bars,dry cleaners,vegetable markets etc.

micaela bastidas said...

for all those of you had for years wanted a place to go drink coffee with friends- seba seba has been in Jackson Heights for a very very long time and that is precisely what people go there to do- drink coffee with friends.

Lety's, Expresso 77, and starbucks- how are they different from seba seba? oh- that the majority of people in them arent brown- unless their serving you- right, my bad.

Anonymous said...

Hi micaela I am a brown person. Don't make this about class or race. It is about good coffee. I grew up on coffee and I like espresso. The espresso in Seba Seba. Give me a break. Not so good. Watered down. They don't know how to make it. Maybe good for you because you have cafe con leche. Espresso 77 makes a good cup. And by the way one of the owners is Brown too and lives in JH. Maybe he isn't latino like you and me but hey maybe you're the racist.