There is a very small Starbucks store on Grant Avenue in San Francisco, located very close to San Francisco’s gate to Chinatown.  This store at 359 Grant Avenue does not have a Clover.  It is not a drive-thru.  It is not a Reserve Starbucks.  (The Reserve line of coffees began in August 2010, with the first offering being from the Galapagos Islands.)  It is not a newer-designed store.  It is not LEED Certified.  It’s just an ordinary, normal Starbucks.  There is very limited seating with just a few hard tables and chairs.  It feels like it might be only three hundred square feet, at most.  Yet to me, this is a very special Starbucks.

When I walked into this store on Wednesday the 16th of March, I felt like I was going to cry.  This is the Starbucks that helped get me through law school.  I remember clearly being parked at their tables, sitting for hours and hours, surrounded by tall stacks of books, pens, highlighters, and a laptop.  I am quite thankful that I was never asked to give up my seat due to nursing a drink for hours, sitting with books.  Thank you Starbucks.  This very Starbucks is the place where my romance with the corporation began to be re-kindled.  In the 1990s, I went through a period of being dismayed at Starbucks when I realized that beans starting to come in flavorlock bags, and that there was no “whole bean register” anymore, and I realized that Venti size had been added to the menu.  I started to recognize that Starbucks experience again when I lived in San Francisco.  And when I saw a Starbucks in San Francisco, I felt like it was a bit of my piece of Seattle existing in San Francisco.  It was a reassuring feeling.

One reason I liked this store is that the people watching from this store is amazing.  I am completely convinced that you could stare all day at the San Francisco Chinatown gate and what you would see is a non-stop parade of people getting their photos taken in front of the Chinatown gate.  It is amazing how it is one, right after another, for hours and hours.  The store’s clientele tends to be heavily tourists in the area, and often it’s a store where you’ll hear a few foreign languages spoken.

On my visit, I met the store manager who happened to be there.  His name is Donald Wallis.  This was not really a planned visit to this store, but I wanted to see it again.  The store was busy the entire time I was there.  Although by amazing coincidence, the store manager had just made a press of Tribute Blend, and was sampling it to customers at the register.  The store manager appeared genuinely enthusiastic about Tribute Blend.

If you want to visit this store, here’s the address:

Starbucks Store #6765
Corner of Grant and Bush Streets
359 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, California 94108
(415) 392-2365

And here are a few photos from this store visit.  I took the photos and visited the store on March 16, 2011.  If you like reading about Starbucks in San Francisco, I also wrote about a store on Union Street.  If you generally like reading about stores across the United States that I’ve visited, there is a category of them here.