In case you hadn’t heard, Williamsburg finally got itself a Starbucks location this morning—on Union Ave near the Lorimer/Metropolitan L and G station. The neighborhood is already in the throes of an identity crisis, what with the closure of old stalwarts and the imminent arrival of megaliths like J. Crew. While the Twitter-sphere at large explodes with consternation at this latest development (woeful declarations of the demise of the neighborhood abound), we hit the streets to find out what locals really think about their newest coffee purveyor.
Lunchtime. The store itself is relatively quiet, but things have picked up since morning: a steady stream of customers trickle in and out, while a couple of patrons tap away busily on their laptops. Reporters aren’t being tolerated inside, so we loiter outside to gauge the neighborhood’s response.
Melissa, 21 (Williamsburger of one year) says, “It’s weird [that it’s here], but I dunno… It takes credit cards so I guess I’ll be coming.” Melissa usually gets her caffeine fix at the nearby Bagel Smith, and is unimpressed by the ‘end of the neighborhood’ argument. “I think the end of the neighborhood has been happening for a while.”
Tony, 60 (Williamsburger of 49 years) says he feels “pretty good,” about the new fixture. “Delicious! It’s a great business. They only just opened up.” He lives nearby on South 2nd and Union, and plans on becoming a regular.
Aaron, 24 (Williamsburger of 5 years) says, “I don’t like it.” He name-checks three independent coffee shops in the immediate vicinity. “Everyone is going to continue to go to those businesses,” he says. “My whole crew. Starbucks serves awful coffee.” Interestingly, Aaron works for Williamsburg’s upcoming Urban Outfitters cafe. I point out to him that people might class that establishment in the same league as Starbucks. He concedes the point, but has a rejoinder ready: “This is different though, because that [the UO outfit] is its own entity. And it’s quality.”
Gabriella, 50 (Williamsburger of 3 months) says she’s “very happy” with the new location and will be a regular. “In Brooklyn, no Starbucks,” she says. “This is a nice rich neighborhood, and very good coffee.”
Jeff, 29 (lives a little further off, in East Williamsburg) was visiting a friend when he saw the Starbucks and popped in to do some work. “I got hooked because my brother used to work at Starbucks,” he explains. “Honestly, I’m not a coffee connoisseur. They put a lot of chocolate in their mocha so I’m happy.” Asked whether he’s planning on being a regular, he says, “Probably. Although I guess I shouldn’t say that in this neighborhood.”
Hayley, 11, and Naema, 12 (lifelong Williamsburgers) are super stoked that Starbucks has finally landed. They’re heading in now. “We’re so excited!” says Naema. “I have their secret menu on my phone.” Her regular order is the Raspberry Cotton Candy Frappuccino, while Hayley favors the caramel mocha.
Kevin, 25 (Williamsburger of 1 year): “I think the space could’ve been used for another business that doesn’t already have enough prime New York real estate.” So he won’t be frequenting the place? “Nope. I’m actually headed to The West [a nearby coffee shop] right now.”
Kory, 21 (Williamsburger of 2 months) emerges with a vanilla bean frappe piled high with whipped cream. He just moved to Brooklyn from California. Despite the evidence in his hands, he says he probably won’t become a regular. “I like the local coffee shops,” he says. “But I’m on my way into work and this was the first shop off the train.”
Marilyn, 48 (lifelong Williamsburger) is popping in with friends on a work break. “It’s awesome,” she says. “We’re like, It’s opening, we’ll be there.” Marilyn plans on becoming a regular. “Today I’m getting my Vente caramel macchiato and a croissant!” she says, triumphantly.
Matthew whips by so fast we don’t even get his age, but he doesn’t need long to get his point across. “I was about to spit on it—quote me!”