Once upon a time, you introduced a cafe that had comfy seating, including chairs that had ample cushions. Patrons could sit and relax, or work in a comfortable way. Although your cafe chairs had less cushioning, they were nonetheless chairs that you did not mind to use.
Fast forward to one of your redesigns about five to seven years ago. The popularity that your chain has enjoyed on the East Coast drove you to think that your stores were the equivalent of factory lines. Instead of an inviting place to be, your new selection of furniture screamed of your need to get customers as fast in and out of the store as possible, while making it uncomfortable for them to did want to sit and stay for a while.
You replaced tables with planks of wood against windows and swapped chairs for bar stools without back support. You removed every comfortable chair and replaced them with thinly padded stools. As an independent freelance writer, I find that working outside of my house is a better office than inside. The people working around me keep me focused, and I have ample access to your excellent coffee, lunch, and pastry products. When I am here, I spend at least $10 during my 2-3 hour stay every time.
When I first needed to find a place to work a couple of weeks ago, the only option for me other than the library is your Bellerose, NY location. When I try to sit in your cafe table chairs, the back curves sharply along the sides and leans at the back. The sides of the back stick uncomfortably into my buttocks behind my hips. I am a trim woman, and it is painful even to me.
Because I cannot sit up straight in your chairs and work, I am either forced to sit way back, which causes me to bend my neck painfully forward, or I am forced to lean forward until my back is completely out of the chair. I have fibromyalgia, and it is aggravated when I have to move back and forward a lot, which is what happens if I try to work at your cafe for any period of time. In just three days time, I started to have a knot in two places in my back, which I still have.
After a week away, I am back in the cafe. Here on the East Coast, I am in the middle of 3 snowstorms in one week. Not getting out of the house is a work as well as mental health issue for me. Your store is more than a retail location, it is also a lifesaver for students and freelance workers.
While I do not begrudge you your success and your need to accommodate more customers, I wanted to let you know one thing: Coming to Starbucks used to do more than just give me great coffee, I felt like I was entering an inviting urban oasis. The decor was not painful to use. Starbucks used to be my favorite cafe. However, that feeling has since been long gone.
If I had a request that you would consider filling, I would ask you to add at least one or two comfy chairs back in your larger locations, such as the Bellerose, NY store, to let customers test-sit your chairs, and to replace some or all of these terribly uncomfortable cafe chairs.