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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.