Houston, TX 77019
November 2010–When I think of things that are uniquely Houston , I am inclined to think of a location once brought to many peoples attention by comedian Lewis Black, on visiting Houston for the first time. He noted a location where there are two Starbucks coffee shops directly across the street from each other and went so far as to call it “the end of the world.” They are located at 2029 and 2050 West Gray Street, in the River Oaks Shopping Center in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and can clearly be seen from the intersection of West Gray with South Shepherd Drive.
As stated earlier, most people know about this location because it is so incredible to have two locations of the exact same company across the street from each other. Many people meet at one of the locations to discuss things one would normally discuss at any coffee shop, how things are going and how their days were and the like, and people across West Gray do the exact same thing. Perhaps this would give someone a sense of deja-vu.
While sitting inside the Starbucks on the south side of West Gray, I glanced around the area around the shopping center. All sorts of people were there, but as it drew later and later many of the older ones disappeared and soon only young people prowled up and down West Gray Street. Most of them were there simply to take in the sights and sounds of the River Oaks area, or to see a movie at the nearby River Oaks Landmark Theater. All sorts of citizens flock at both of the Starbucks, and it is clear from behavior patterns across the country that many people love the coffee served at Starbucks. I, however, am not one of them. I don’t particularly care for coffee, but I do appreciate the atmosphere of a good coffeehouse.
My first impressions of the whole River Oaks Shopping Center were those of an air of relaxation. Most of the people inside seemed very laidback, as if they had nothing better to do that sit at a Starbucks for all the time in the world. Many people wait for the coffee that I despise so much. But this is the case at any Starbucks. Why would it be different here?
I inquired with a server to see if the two coffee shops were rivals, and he said he wasn’t sure. I asked another, and she said that they both do approximately the same amount of business. I wasn’t really surprised by this, for I had guessed as much because rivaling businesses across the street from each other usually do about the same amount of business.
Both of these Starbucks are located in the River Oaks Shopping Center , located in the heart of the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. The neighborhood is home to many prominent Houstonians, such as Ken Lay, George Bush Sr., Roger Clemens, and David Carradine. The homes are usually located on large lots, with much greenery adorning the edifices on them.
After driving around and viewing all the neighborhood has to offer, I return to the Starbucks across the street and start a conversation with a worker there. He said he had worked at this particular Starbucks for over 3 years, after transferring from another Starbucks near Montrose Boulevard. I bid him good day, pay for my coffee, and am on my way.
Further down West Gray Street is the aforementioned River Oaks Theater. This theater is always a popular destination for young adults from all over Houston, hoping to see a new movie before it gets a mainstream release, or see a classic movie like “The Goonies” or “The Wall” at midnight. I purchase my ticket for the midnight showing of “Fight Club”, so I’ll have something to do later tonight.
So I recommend the River Oaks Shopping Center, because it has something for virtually everyone to do. It’s a popular place for people from almost every way of life, whether you’re the politically motivated punk rocker on a mission, or the quiet, introspective artist who just needs a place to sit and be creative. No matter who you are, chances are you’ll always find something to do at the River Oaks Shopping Center.