Monday, April 29, 2019


I am sitting in a Starbucks restaurant that, until a year ago, was a gas station.  The station often seemed empty.  Not empty anymore.

The Starbucks sits across the street from a Dunkin Donuts that itself is very popular. The Starbucks is more popular. I have rarely come here when there was more than one open spot in the ample parking lot.  And empty seats are at a premium.

On the other side of town, at the junction of Main Street and Moody Street, there is an Independent coffee shop. If one were to drive west on Main street, in less than a half mile you'd find an all night Dunkin Donuts that is always busy.  In addition there are a couple of convenient stores that have coffee for takeout. Keep going west on route 117 and in short time you could go into a Panera's that is well attended. Drive about half mile further and you can pull into an outdoor shopping plaza that has a Market Basket, liquor store, Marshalls, Verizon, and three relatively high end restaurants.  Very busy plaza.  Tough to get a parking spot in this plaza.

But the place in the shopping area that is more crowded than any of the other popular establishments in the plaza or any of the coffee shops en route to the plaza, is a Starbucks that sits in the middle of the parking lot.  It has a drive through. I have never, ever, ever, been in the shopping plaza when there was not a line at the drive through.  I sometimes go to the Market Basket at 7 am.  Never ever has nobody been on line waiting for a cup of coffee. Donna went to meet someone for coffee at this Starbucks and the two could not get close to a table.  I once got a seat at 6 am on a Sunday.  But now I don't bother even trying.  So if I feel like Starbucks I drive to this other side of town where I have a fighting chance of getting a seat.

What is it with Starbucks?  Why is it that in New York City in particular you can't walk two blocks without seeing one.  Why are they so successful?  The one where I sit now is really kind of a pain in the neck to get to. Which is, I suppose, why the gas station--a Mobile--left Dodge.  The site was no problem for Starbucks. It is 308 in the afternoon.

One thing that puzzles me is how the clientele are encouraged, or at least not discouraged, from loitering. I bought the smallest size coffee they have (called a "tall"--the smallest is a tall) and I am sitting here with my laptop. To my left are four tables of people who are on their computers.  How can they make the loot to pay for the rent,when the occupants buy 5 dollars worth of whatever and park themselves for hours at a table.  It's not like a bar where a waiter comes by and asks if you want something else and if you say no, you are essentially given the heave ho.  Here I can stay til my laptop runs out of juice.

I go to Starbucks for two reasons. The first is that there must be more of a jolt in their coffee because after two cups of this I can do the Mexican hat dance--and I need a hip replacement for hip two--and I already have a pipe holding hip #1 together.

The second reason is that I like hanging out and using my laptop.  I could do without the two kids in front of me right now, playing with straws, blowing the paper wrapper off, watching it fly for a few seconds.  But these kids are aberrations. Usually, the place is more quiet and I can do work or whatever I want to on the laptop. Their moms,--the straw blowers' moms--are meeting and have kid duty apparently, so they are discussing some business issue while letting their kids run around.

My theory about why Starbucks is popular relates more to my first reason than my second, but the second reason counts too. I think primarily it is the drug.  This is a legal drug.  Like speed with a nice hat.   But Starbucks is also a place where someone who wants to get out of the house and be among people--even the occasional obnoxious kid straw blower--can be among people and do solitarily whatever they would have done in a an actual solitary setting.

P.S.  I drove past the Starbucks in the plaza at a little past 7 am the morning after I first posted this blog. There were more than five cars on line at the drive through. However, I did glance through the windows, and you could easily have gotten a seat inside at that time.

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