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Saturday, July 25, 2009

A trip down Lonsdale, North Vancouver

Funny thing when you stop to count the number of locations on one major street. North Vancouver's Lonsdale Avenue, not really that long a street, ends up with four locations on it, and one just around the corner at Esplanade (see prior blog - March 8th).

From North to South:

They knocked down some old relics of shops, and built this with a chateau-like feel. It's always busy, and seems quieter and more restful than it should given it's location. Oh yes, it's at 27th & Lonsdale.

Ten blocks down, at 17th, is our second stop. Along the West side, it's got reasonable street parking off Lonsdale. The internet works well here for those of you using their wireless hookups.

This particular morning was bright and clear, and it seemed like the americano served satisfied more than usual. Worth the visit!

If I was walking, our third stop would be four blocks further at 13th. But alas, I was driving.

An evening visit brought me to the neighbouring hospital, and afterwards a quiet walk for a coffee. Just what's needed to provide rest at the end of a full day.

Interestingly, all the locations listed are on the West side of Lonsdale - now what's with that, I wonder?

This recently added location is at third, and provided me with their great (but rather pricey) juices, and a couple coffees - a coffee break for a crew and foreman working in a neighbouring building's courtyard.

Now, did I miss any along the way?

What's a guy to do - part two!

Let's continue along this track...

I love finding new locations, and here's on in the new Port Moody Newport Village area. Unless you're a fan of underground parking (signage is still poorly marked and incomplete), you'll prefer to walk to this location. And while you're there, visit the new Thrifty's next door - a favorite grocery store chain.

On the other side of the city, at West Broadway near Manitoba, is this hideaway. On the newer side as well, it had Sumatra on tap - and that'll get a "thumbs-up" rating any day!

Also on the west side, at about 8th & Stevens, is this unique location. I enjoyed the large windows and spacious feel of this corner shop. And the cell reception for making calls in the grass around the corner is just perfect.

I've always struggled to drive Kingsway in Burnaby. Just a long, slow drive with cars that don't seem sure of where they're going...

Along the way, down at the Edmonds end of Kingsway, is this first-floor location. Upstairs is a new Save-On-Foods, and across a drugstore, but underneath both is this jewel. Quiet and cool, with regulars enjoying the papers and conversation.

Another Save-On Foods brings us to this location in Westgate Mall. It's just East of the new Golden Ears bridge, and somewhat hidden, but has a great patio in a protected corner, for grabbing that ever-needed break!

While up on Johnson hill in Coquitlam (at the Westwood Plateau golf course, no less!) I found this location in a newer mall at Parkview. We were "working" at the 13th hole, and needed a place to get out of the sun. Nothing better than a double - espresso and a bathroom break!

What's a guy to do?

Here's a newsflash - I get busy sometimes! You too? Hopefully you'll understand.

It's been a bit since my last post, but I've faithfully visited and photographed the 'Bucks along the way. (I know, I know - it's a tough task, but someone has to drink all that coffee...)

Problem is, I'm so far behind, there's over 20 on my list to post! honor of the Cart races in Toronto and Edmonton, get ready for an IndyCar-like speed down the straightaway of Vancouver Starbucks!

Travelling Hastings just West of Willingdon, on the North side, you'll find this relaxing location. Always full of patrons, it's been here a while, and if you can find parking, well worth the visit.

This NEW location is part of the complex near the notorious Vancouver COSTCO. It's just west of Skeena on Grandview. Still smells new - almost as good as "new car" smell. Also a handy Canadian Tire in the complex if you need to shop!

The "Dueck's on Marine" always struck me as an odd place for a Starbucks. Well, at some point, Starbucks thought the same.

Even though the shop was still set up inside the showroom, and signage still in place, this letter was posted at the counter - basically saying Starbucks had "skipped" and wasn't upholding it's lease requirements.

An odd location - and now with a twist!

If you travel to the foot of Davie South of Pacific, there's a quaint and quiet area near the water, near the "Roundhouse". A local Coast Capital CU, a trendy grocery store, and of course, Starbucks. Parking will cost you a hefty fee, but the walk in the neighbourhood is worth it.

Speaking of Davie, here's the other end of the street, at Denman. A fun round building, with tons of sitting room inside.

Nearby is the Boathouse restaurant and patio, and some of the best views of the beach around.

On a recent bike trip, I took my mid-ride break at this location off Guildford Way, a block or so East of Falcon. The patio area is perfect for that sunny morning relaxation, and they didn't mind refilling my water bottle!

All the way to Whiterock, with another old favorite, on 152nd near 17th Avenue. This one seems stuck in a location few would choose today, as it's crammed into a small older mall with a theatre in it. Still, the inside is always busy, and it's opposite the main Whiterock mall, so traffic is good! I've met many a customer or foreman there over the years.

What gives with this location above the highway, at 108th & 160th Street? A brand new location, along a typical high-traffic commuter route, and NO DRIVETHROUGH?

Inside is beautiful, but it only serves those coming East on 108th, and turning out onto 160th is poor.... not one of my choices.

I had to run out of gas in order to visit this location! The story goes (and I'm sticking with it!) that I was visiting a customer nearby, and arrived early, so parked in the neighbouring
Home Depot lot to return some calls. When the time for my meeting arrived - the car wouldn't start! I ended up walking to meet the customer, and after providing an estimate, returned and called the BCAA-like Honda hotline. It took both a splash of gas and an jump-start to get my Civic going!

Fortunately, this location at Gilmore was close, and had a great espresso to help calm my nerves.

Finally, for this posting, is this location in Newton, Surrey, just East of the King George Highway near 74th. As is typical of the suburbs, lots of parking, and a nice layout with many tables. As I walked in - I met up with one of our foremen, Mark, enjoying a coffee and newspaper.

Joined him for a brief break, and then had to be on my way, coffee in hand. Speeding away... just like those this blog!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Beauty found in Surrey

After years of Surrey jokes (which I won't repeat here), it's worth noting a couple of bright lights.

This location is on Scott at 72nd, part of another renovated mall (exterior facelift, awnings). You'll feel safe as you pull in and park, noticing the community police station is next door. Still, lock your doors. (sorry, but it still is Surrey.)

This location has a regular business flow - the majority of the lineup was regular customers. I've always been impressed with the staff's ability in many Starbucks to know the regular's names, and this was in strong evidence here. Kind of like "Cheers" for those who remember. I wasn't called by name, but my coffee was fresh & hot all the same.

If you're travelling 152nd near Guildford Mall, this location on the East side is worth a stop. The parking lot is tight, but the neighbouring restaraunt is now closed, so use that lot to park.

Surprisingly, the outdoor seating facing 152nd was not as noisy as I expected. The interior areas were full (often are), and I was hesitant to join the smoker crowd outside. Found a corner where the breeze was travelling the right way, and enjoyed the chance to get some "city fresh" air along with my double shot of espresso.

Renovation or new - breaking 40!

Park & Tilford renovations have given this location a great facelift. One of my travelled routes along the North Van passage, I've enjoyed many an espresso here. The interior is the same, still comfortable & spacious. Parking on movie nights is a drag, but daytime (with some sun like this day!) is pretty good. If you've got time, the private wine store in the same building has some of the best selection I've come across. Interesting choices, and helpful staff.

Found myself downtown (okay I drove there, not by accident, truth be told), and parked a couple blocks from an estimate I needed to take care of for work. Hadn't seen this location before - it looks new within the last year. It's on Seymour, just before Smithe. Truly catering to the walking crowd (parking in the area is a chore!), it had an amazing amount of discounted merchandise. Perhaps the condos in the area are under-served with cool cups and neat appliances?

The coffee was good, and the comfy chair in the corner perfect for relaxing while I jotted down all those things I needed to remember, and returning those urgent emails.

This location is the other Marine Way Starbucks in south Burnaby. Found just after the bend travelling West, it's a quick turn as the lanes open up. Parking is light and spacious - I worry that business may be light for the stores on this side. There's not much "pull" compared to the shops on the south.

Still, not one to pass up a chance to sample the coffee shops, I got a strong Sumatra that was just right for an early morning drive.

If you've travelled Kingsway near MetroTown lately, you've likely noticed the new pedestrian bridge over Kingsway. It's a great connector from the mall to the shops on the North, anchored by Best Buy. (there's also a Shoppers). If you're not at the mall, parking is a challenge (there is a small lot underground, but it's hard to find and enter), but worth it. The Starbucks at the corner was especially bright and cheery - the sun streaming in! I didn't think the outside patio would be enjoyable given the traffic in the area, but I could find no fault with my long-pour americano.

A truly commuter location along Lougheed in Port Coquitlam, the chairs and tables inside were unused the morning I dropped in. The drive thru was packed with customers grabbing their morning wake-up as they travelled West into the city.

Not sure if it was the rainy morning, or my need for more sleep, but I left unimpressed. Good thing they were serving Estima, or it would have been a wholly negative visit.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

From West 6th to MetroTown - two more makes 35!

Okay, so it's now the end of May, and I'm barely 1/6th of the way there. Not a great omen for completing this task. There's a lot of coffee in my days ahead it appears!

As you travel East from Granville Island area on West 6th, you'll pas this jem of a location. It's squeezed into a busy corner of shops, but has a few nice tables by the window to take a break and relax with a newspaper. One of these days I'll show up around supper, and try the interesting restaurant called "Szechuan Chilli" - Chinese with some heat! I love spicy food.

Just West of MetroTown, you'll find this hidden location, one building back from the Red Robins & TD Canada Trust, near Save On Foods. It's near my old "stompin' grounds" when I lived in the area, and could walk here from our apartment. Maybe that's where my seeming addiction to Starbucks began. Hmmmm...

The best time to visit here is on a sunny day (like it was), where you can enjoy the outside seating. Inside has the bar-stool areas at the windows, and one other table. Still, a great place for the daytime break, and if shopping or banking is on your list, you can take your java to go, and run those errands at the same time! Park on the second parkade level - the ground level traffic is a zoo.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Even to Squamish!

I took the opportunity to stop in this wonderful town, made all the more picturesque by the sunny weather and Sea to Sky highway drive! I've not determined how many Starbucks are in Squamish (maybe you know? any guesses?), but there are at least two along the highway to Whistler.

Found on the West side of the Sea to Sky, it makes a great early morning stop. The day I visited, it was filled with coffee drinkers. A couple of "working coffees," but for the most part casual, relaxed, and local patrons. I felt like I stood out, as the pace of conversation & activity was a fair bit slower than that of many Starbucks in Greater Vancouver.

If you are in South Vancouver, take your travels along Kerr Street headed south from 49th. On the East side of Kerr you'll find a great strip mall filled with shops worth visiting. At the edge of this mall is an old favorite, frequently visited when I attended Killarney Park Church just a couple blocks north. Still retaining the nostalgia of those years, it also has the "classic" look and expanded seating of older locations. A few casual chairs in the front corner, and even a private "hallway" of seating behind the condiment counter.

While you're there, visit the sushi to go shop in the same mall, and grab a great lunch. Or pick up the latest offering of fresh fruits at the market at the corner. Two of my recommended stores in this area - what are yours?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cambie to Chilliwack, and a cameo

Cambie's quaintness and shops are slowing reappearing, and with them a new Starbucks. Great views into the north shore across the bridge. I grabbed my favorite dark roast, and stretched my legs along the neighbouring blocks of shops. This location is built for taking your coffee along (limited seating, and no patio), but the adjacent businesses are worth at least window shopping!

Chilliwack hosts three Starbucks, and here's number two, nestled in the mall at Highway 1 and Vedder. A bit hidden by the VanCity bank on the opposite side, it's got plenty of parking (as most out of town malls do!) and the morning blend Pike Place was pleasantly served. Pike blend continues to be a poor representation of Starbucks to me. I expect Starbucks coffees to be more distinctive and unique, and this one struggles to be anything in particular. Nothing to dislike, just not great.

Finally, a visit to Granville Island. With what has to be the worst parking ever (3 spots crammed into a tiny lot), you quickly realize this location is for the non-car crowd. Walked there and enjoyed an Americano. New staff took a couple tries to get it right, but it was worth the wait.

For the sharp-eyed, there's a cameo appearance in this picture. Your guess on who it is?

Old favorite, brand new, or hidden away - the travels continue

It's been a couple weeks - welcome back! I've been busy tracking down new customers, and serving our existing customers. In between, I've found some great locations.

The mall at 6th & 6th in New Westminster got a face-lift about 2 years ago, and prominently added London Drugs. Fortunately, they left this great neighbourhood Starbucks intact. From my days living in New West, this location was staffed by such pleasant employees, and service was great regardless how busy they were. My recent experience was just as excellent. They've added some benches and seating in the back. And if you need an excuse to browse a store, LD's is right there!

Working downtown on an early morning, I needed a java (and a washroom), and parked near Denman & Robson. This brand new location at the West corner had the cleanest shop (and washrooms) I've seen to date. Sitting out front was friend I used to work alongside at ICI Paints, and we had a chance to reconnect. Parking is never easy in these parts, but if you're biking or walking, here's one for your travels.

Another early morning, this time along Marine Drive in Burnaby. They've added a stretch of commercial buildings in the "bend", and Starbucks is prominent among them. This location is on the South - I'll add the north side next time I'm west-bound in the area. I love the use of windows to give an open, airy environment. That morning the patio had the heaters going, so I could enjoy the dark roasted Sumatra, pick up my phone messages, and sit outside in the fresh morning air.

In Langley, they continue to surround our office with Starbucks. This location is just off 88th Avenue, and while the parking lot is horrid (shared with Tim's no less), the convenience is great!

Anyone else really find the Verona dark blend really "floral". I wish they'd drop it, personally... Took a long-pour Americano back to the office instead. Love the aroma. Almost as good as the coffee itself.

Out in Abbotsford to review some business sites, and found a hidden location. It's just South of the Highway 1, at Sumas Way. You need to stay alert and turn early, as it resides in the North section of the strip mall, before the more obvious Tim's. A nice alternative if you're out that way, as exits/entrances to the highway are simple, and the drive through service was prompt.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

West Vancouver's hidden treasures

It was a bright and sunny day, and the ski hills of Whistler were calling. But not without a short stop for a short coffee along the way. Traveling from home, along the Upper Levels #1 Highway, requires a stop just before Horshoe Bay. This small shop is always packed with customers - a tribute to it's staff and location. Look for Exit #4, Caulfeild (yes, it's spelled correctly), on the South side of the Highway.

If you're down near the renovated Park Royal Shopping Centre, you've no doubt seen the creative boutique shops in the mall area. Right at the East side of the Home Depot is this relaxing new location. Unusually large amounts of seating, and the inspiration of retro styling in a new building; the coffee was great too. They were pouring Sumatra, and who can resist those dark roasts!

Friday, April 10, 2009

From West Van to Ladner

This wonderful location in the heart of West Vancouver off Marine Drive, has the feel of an alpine setting. Climb up from the back alley parking (and underground parkade), and you'll think you're in Whister. Wood arches, benches & chairs. Unique!

Inside it's a big layout - spacious. Lots of reading room. It's also right across the aisle from Delaneys. I had to compare: Starbucks had about 16 people there, with mostly business people, and a small group (couples). Specialty coffees & drinks were the orders placed. Across at Delaneys, it was a broader mix of ages, with less business folk, and a few more neighbours it appeared. Sandwiches and desserts were also in greater evidence.

If the thought of gelato makes you smile, there's a neat location in Kitsilano on West 4th. The coffee was good, but the walk across the street for a gelato was even better! A two-for-one stop, I'd say.

New Westminster's downtown has undergone quite a revitalization in past years, but one consistent business has been the Starbucks at 6th and Columbia. I can remember walking from our home in New West on a sunny weekend, when our now 12 year old was just a baby! It's been renovated to keep up with the "look" of corporate Starbucks, and has attractive wood & rattan chairs. They store has always had a community feel, and it retains that with locally produced artist's work (carvings, paintings), and occasional floral arrangements. It's close to the police station and a local college, so watch out for the busy lunch and break-times.

And on to sunny Ladner. The mall in the heart of town has a busy location, sandwiched (pardon the pun) between Subway and Blockbuster Video. Not spacious at all, so plan to take it to go. The staff are friendly and efficient, and got my Americano ready in no time. Next door for a sub... Can you say lunch?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Into double digits - here are numbers 12 - 18!

The list still looks LONG! I thought I'd count, in the hopes of celebrating some progress. Got to 18, and realized there's a long way to go.

A walk through the last couple weeks' visits:

New Westminster boasts a great hospital - Royal Columbian on E. Columbia Street. Just down the block, and ideal for a coffee on your way past, is this new location. Part of a residential block, it anchors the commercial area. Street parking (watch the meters!) is good, and I got to see the "A-team" staff in action, as the lineup was long, but moved fast.

Lucky "13" goes to a Burnaby Starbucks, located near the Gilmore Skytrain station on the new line. I've had to park in a number of creative locations to get here, but inside is worth it. Always busy, but usually efficient too. I'd suggest a coffee of the day if it's a crazy lineup.

I enjoy the quiet of Whiterock, and you'll find this one off 152nd just south of King George Highway. Accessible from both streets, it neighbours a Quiznos, and so offers both great coffee and convenient lunch!

Traveling to the Airport? This location near Bridgeport has a great drive-through. Inside is less than stellar, but the convenience of coffee-to-go outweighs any concerns.

Even the hospitals are getting in on it. The new (and quite beautiful) Abbotsford hospital sports this warm and inviting shop. I've never found hospitals great places to relax, so mine was "to go!"

I must travel 152nd Street in Surrey a lot, as I've now counted 5 locations. I'll have to make a day-trip and visit them all in one fell swoop!

Near the Safeway just south of Fraser Hwy, I've found their long-pour Americano's are best here.

Number 18. Back to Vancouver, and a new location on the East side of Cambie near 39th, just past the recently tunneled (and cut/cover!) Canada Line due to open this fall, bringing travellers from Richmond and the Airport north to downtown. Limited street parking (it's Cambie after all), but welcoming service, no "new staff" missed drinks, and friendly. Enjoyed my favourite Gold Coast roast - another reason to love this new location!