Planet News Views

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Starbucks, American Late-Night Hangout

By Scott McLean

In recent years, though it's hard to pinpoint exactly when, Starbucks was transformed into a late-night hangout for teens and college students cramming for tests.

This really isn't so different from previous generations spending free time at a shopping mall, music store, McDonald's or other fast food restaurants.

In the smaller cities, where the Starbucks is open regular business hours, the stores have a relaxed atmosphere, it's actually quite boring on a weekend night.

A few Starbucks in Boise, Idaho come to mind. If you like to read a newspaper with a latte or mocha and not be bothered, then this is the kind of place for you.

However, in some cities, such as Beaverton, Oregon, Starbucks is open all night. And on the weekend, if you go there at, say, 10 pm it's filled with lots of people, mostly teens and college students, either studying or pretending to study. With musicians often performing on weekends, the crowds start forming not long after the dinner hour.

A few hours later, the crowd continues to grow until there is standing room only...when the night comes to an end is anyone's guess as well as whether the late nighter was productive for anybody but the Starbucks company and its employees who earned every dollar.

That Starbucks is becoming America's weekend late-night hangout, bar none, is news. And despite what we have been told, all news need not be bad news.

Starbucks success is one example of news bringing a smile to millions of faces. It's not just financial news and about all the money consumers are spending money, but it tells a tale of how and where American young people are spending more and more leisure time.

If you read many posts like I do or just have conversations with friends about your favorite coffee, you know that few people are lukewarm when it comes to Starbucks. Either they like the coffee or they don't. Similarly, people either tolerate the crowds or the stay away.

If noise doesn't bother you and you like action minus alcohol and cigarette smoke, Starbucks on a Friday or Saturday night just might be the place for you.

Some stores are quieter than others, and you will know the quiet ones immediately by all the laptops you see when you walk in the door. Just choose the Starbucks where you feel comfortable, buy a coffee, espresso drink, pastry, whatever, and enjoy.

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