By any measure, Montrose is already Houston's most caffeinated neighborhood: home to so many independently-owned coffee shops serving expertly crafted espresso that they have to distinguish themselves through food options like biscuits (Blacksmith), gelato (Inversion), or panini (Siphon). Others set themselves apart by having beer and wine (Southside Espresso) or serve as an unofficial study hall for Rice and University of St. Thomas students (Black Hole).
It would seem like an unlikely neighborhood for a new Starbucks, and yet, a new outpost of Seattle's most famous export opened Monday at 1801 Richmond (on the corner of Woodhead). It's the latest of the company's over 13,000 American locations. That's only 0.9 miles from the Starbucks on Shepherd and Harold and 1.4 miles from the Starbucks at Montrose and Hawthorne.
Immediately, those of a certain cultural disposition will think of the two Starbucks at Shepherd and West Gray that comedian Lewis Black once referred to as the end of the universe (1.9 miles away from the newcomer). Indeed, the reference is so obvious that a Chronicle writer already made it in July — before construction on this new Starbucks had even begun!
So maybe it isn't essential, but the neighborhood seems happy about the new location. Even at 4 pm on opening day, about a dozen people occupied the dining room. They can choose from comfortable chairs, tables for working, or a covered, non-smoking patio. Those on-the-go can opt for the drive-thru.
Of course, the quality of the drinks matches its peers. My latte didn't come topped with foam art like at the better locally-owned places, but it was quick and consistent, and the menu includes all the high octane, high sugar choices that have made Starbucks a global empire.
Welcome to the neighborhood.