Zurich's Language Exchange Message Board › The "Why We Use Starbucks Central" Thread!

The "Why We Use Starbucks Central" Thread!

Zürich, CH
Post #: 1
Hey Everyone,

So it looks like it's about time I created a thread about this, given the frequency of times the question is asked and the discussion is raised. Here's a clarification as to why we hold our meetups at the Starbucks Central, why the pros are currently outweighing the cons, and under what circumstances we would consider changing the venue. I'm going to write it all down here, so that we can use it as a reference in the future, and discuss relevant ideas here as well. =) [I already apologize for all possible typos, as I'll be typing this in a bleeding hurry! ;)]

Initially, we were using the Starbucks located at Limmatstrasse 5. Then for various reasons, size and closing hours on the top of the list, we started looking for a different venue. This was a long period of decision making and a process of elimination, the decision to move to Central didn't exactly happen by chance or easily. Good deal of thought went into it, and Carmen and I spent quite some time figuring this out. We looked into various venues that had the conditions that we needed, Carmen even went through the pain of trying to rent us the Quartierhaus 5, which didn't work out too well. At the end, we chose Central. Here's why:

Flexibility. Our group sometimes consists of 20-something people, sometimes 60-something people. Even with the RSVP list, most of the times we don't even know exactly how many people are going to show up. Many members don't RSVP, many drop out in the last moment. Some weeks we hold 1 event, some weeks 3 events, and some weeks none at all. All of that means that the idea of renting or reserving a venue, simply does not work. Even if we do find the flexible enough venue, the search for which has so far returned nothing, the renting/reservation fee would be rather impractical.

Starbucks Central has the advantage of [a certain level of] flexibility. It doesn't require booking, and it is spacious, but that's not all. The space is divided to 3 floors, which means that not all of us would be sitting in the same room. That, is more important than you might imagine. Right now there are always complaints about "the noise" in Starbucks. The noise, which happens to have nothing to do with the venue itself! We are a huge group, we take over the floor [or multiple floors], the noise is _all_ours_! Now imagine what it would be like if we were all sitting in the same big room on the same floor!

Proximity to the Hauptbahnhof is another major factor. In our group we have a great percentage of absolute newcomers to the city or the country. Many of these members are not yet terribly familiar with the city, and they very much prefer the HB vicinity for easy access. In addition, many of our members work until 18:00/19:00 [or later], at which point they really do not feel like [as they have expressed] commuting to some remote part of the city. HB is the center of the commutation circle for our Zurich residents, and the fairest option for everyone coming in from the close-by [or not so close-by] cities. So our options are basically limited to all possible venues right around the corner form HB. Starbucks Central meets this one too.

Business policy is another issue. It's safe to say that the staff of Starbucks Central have been astoundingly accommodating to us [at least so far and as long as they don't change their minds]. We pour in some 50 people on random days of the week and for an unforeseen number of hours , we invade their venue, we redecorate it to our needs, we make more noise than a viking clan and not all of us buy something from them at the end. I can tell you from personal experience, that with 99.9% of restaurants, bars, cafes and similar establishments around the city, this is simply not going to fly.

Then of course there is the matter if atmosphere. This is more a matter of taste, and may not be a point for everyone, but for many of us [including me personally] it's also of importance. And since we've had several requests to hold our events in pubs or bars so that people can get a drink, I believe I should cover this point as well. Although one of the finer points of our group is that our meetups serve various purposes for our members, including that of social and networking events, our main purpose remains to practice languages. The learning process is for many of us quite important. That means, as much as we may enjoy the chance to order a pint or two, we care more about an atmosphere which is not terribly noisy, crowded, dark, and basically not learning-friendly. Starbucks is not perfect in that way either, but it's far more effective than most pubs and bars I've come across and not generally such an inconvenient place for academics [hence the number of students you can usually see in the place].

So, I guess that about sums it up for now [I may add something in the future]. These are the major requirements for a venue that can serve our purposes, and as you can see it's not the simplest to meet criteria. Starbucks Central is obviously a far cry from the perfect venue, but it's the closest we've come so far. It's at times very crowded, it has a background music which isn't helpful, it doesn't have the right acoustics for a study room and you can't order a pint [=P], but at least it's more or less meeting our main requirements and so far has been pretty welcoming to us too. That being said, obviously we're always looking for a better venue, and should we find it, we will move there in a blink. But mind you, "better" is the operative word here. So if you're interested in helping us out by finding us a better venue, please do, that would be truly awesome. But please make sure it's actually a "better" venue, as there would be no point in moving from Central [where we already have a rapport with the staff], to a location that doesn't meet the above criteria, or doesn't really improve our situation in any way.

Now, if anyone would like to add points/ideas and discuss things, please do. =)



user 88006492
Zürich, CH
Post #: 1
Wow it's so obvious you're an engineer! So well thought, rational and precise. Although engineers are not usually this good with their writing skills! wink

Nice job with this. I guess it's really easy to look at things from a distance and have an opinion about everything or just complain, but actually managing things is not as easy as it seems. Finding a venue for the group has had so much thought gone into it, makes me wonder how much work it is for you and your friends to do everything else for the group. Thank you for everything, you're a wonderful person and doing a wonderful job, we should say this to you more often. smile If I find something about another "better" venue I'll let you know.
A former member
Post #: 4
Ahoo, sorry that I did not foresee that obviously other people would have had already other comments and requests etc...I think the location works definitely very well for a very large number of people, so no problem there! Thanks for taking the time to explain, etc, next time your coffee is on me! Have a great weekend
Zürich, CH
Post #: 2
Hey Maria, oh that's absolutely no problem! =) It's actually quite great that people care enough about our group to try to improve it, that's exactly what we want! Plus how were you to know that other people have had the same request? And it's obviously a very good question too, so it's no problem discussing it. I just figured I'd write this here, so that on one hand everyone can read it, and on the other hand everyone can write their suggestions about it in the same place so we can refer to it easily and take advantage of the good ideas. =)


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