For me this store was more than just a place to get a quick caffeine or sugar fix but a hub of angst and joy, complimented by cheerful banter, and literary inspiration. Whether it was the hustle and bustle of the lunch hour or the peaceful serene of the early morning starts, complete with beautiful sunrises, Starbucks was the place I would go to order a brew of the day, flip open my laptop (or on rare occasions un-cap a pen and open a notebook) and start working. Sometimes there would be frustrations during its busiest times when prime seating near plug sockets would be unavailable or the overworked free wi-fi connection would slow things down to rage inducing speeds, but I was always greeted with warm smiles and my favourite beverage freshly made, often without even having to give my order. Sometimes however I would change my order just to keep the friendly neighbourhood barsitas on their toes.
Whilst I have stationed myself at many a coffee-house (including various Starbucks stores) none has maintained a friendly and welcoming vibe as the one on Victoria Street. The staff and management have been friendly beyond merely providing excellent customer service. I have laughed with some, and even comforted one or two during hard times which in turn gave me strength during some of my more darker days. Debates have been held over coffee blends and dessert combinations, especially when the Starbucks Reserve came to town, and Victoria Street was the only store in the city to stock some of the finest blends I have ever tasted. Many of the staff and I shared dreams and thoughts of the future, guided ambitions and sometimes just bantered. Many have since moved onto pastures new but they have always been and continue to be a great source of inspiration and joy.
Over the years, whether it be sitting upright on the high table near the french doors with a fine view of the city or a comfy chair in the corner, I feel I have produced my best work here at this store. Passers by might have glanced at a pensive individual huddled over a laptop when in fact I was most likely being interviewed by the BBC website, negotiating work for sites and subjects across the Atlantic, as well as researching and producing posts on some truly world-changing events. Here at this store I made my dreams come true (almost), and reached out across the globe, and the only time I was ever truly sad was heading back out the door to the madhouse that is the day job. Only the promise of returning the next day coupled with the writing achievements of the hour spent would bring a little smile to my face.
The Starbucks store on Victoria Street has played a role in shaping and spurring on my writing journey which over the years has flourished into a potentially viable and life rewarding career. It was here the Gallery blog took shape into which I have poured ponderings, opinions, news, and connected with some fabulous folk. Now the time has come for the doors to close one last time, and for its staff who made it a pleasure to visit, embark on new chapters of the their Starbucks stories. Life will go on, some tears might be shed, and the Gallery will find a new home. Yet there is no denying this store holds much fondness for the staff, its regular customers and of course yours truly. It will be missed by many so I would just like to say a big thank you to all the staff at Starbucks on Victoria Street for looking after my caffeine needs, making me laugh and spurring me on to reach my goal. The Gallery wishes you all the best of good fortune for the future.