NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- It's a brand new day for New Rochelle this morning with the opening of the first-ever Starbucks Coffee shop in the city's downtown. The "soft open" represents a significant milestone in the economic development plans (the official open is expected in the coming weeks).
Monroe College has opened a new 9,000-square-foot bookstore and coffee lounge at New Roc City at LeCount Place, a two-minute walk from the New Rochelle Metro-North station.
"It's opening day!" gushed Store Manager Cynthia Cameron enthusiastically, as workers put the finishing touches on the first day set up.
Thurman Thomas, the Barista not the former NFL star, served your reporter the first official cup of Starbucks coffee.
"We are very excited to welcome New Rochelle to our new store," Cameron told Talk of the Sound. "This has been a long time coming and we could not be happier".
Cameron envisions the new location as "New Rochelle's Living Room". The Monroe College campus bookstore is a Barnes & Noble bookstore with a café serving Starbucks coffee, offering early-hour access to accommodate morning rush-hour commuters.
The spacious café area has 80 seats with walls adorned by gorgeous prints of Saturday Evening Post covers by famed New Rochelle illustrators Norman Rockwell and F.X. Leyendecker. The Royal Fleur performance stage will present live music performances and a weekly "open mic" and karaoke night (Friday nights). A children's corner with Lego and Thomas the Tank Engine tables will host reading hours for young children so parents can relax with a cup of coffee while their children learn and play.
There are two bar areas with electrical outlets, one along the window facing out onto the courtyard, built-in microwave ovens to heat your food, charging stations, and free WiFi (you need to ask store personnel for the password).
The bookshelves are filled with Romance novels, Health & Fitness books, Teen novels, and bestsellers from Mary Higgins Clark, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and many more.
There is a section for board games, puzzles, children's toys and picture books.
The first bookstore customer was Aldaysha Nadler, a Monroe College student. Students lined up for the end of semester book buyback program. Asked how they knew the new store was open, "word of mouth" rang out from several students. Word spread fast as the line quickly grew to 20 deep.
Overall, the store is a fantastic shopping and cafe experience, a long-awaited addition to downtown where residents have been clamoring for a Barnes & Noble and Starbucks for years.
Monroe College partnered with Barnes & Noble College to open the expanded bookstore which replaces Monroe’s existing student bookstore at 456 Main Street. In addition to selling textbooks and Monroe College-branded apparel and school supplies, the new store is a traditional bookstore for the general public, and features a café serving Starbucks coffee. Bistro tables and chairs will be added to the outside courtyard area.
"Our expanded new bookstore is a vibrant community space that, in addition to serving our students’ textbook needs, offers local residents a place to pick up a bestseller, meet over coffee, and even occasionally enjoy the talents of local artists and performers," said Marc Jerome, executive vice president of Monroe College. "We think it will be a great complement to the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, and look forward to the store’s official grand opening."
Jerome is also Chairman of the New Rochelle Downtown Business Improvement District.
"I am delighted to welcome Barnes & Noble College to downtown New Rochelle," said Noam Bramson, mayor of the city. “The new bookstore and café brings fresh vitality to the heart of our city and boost our ambitious economic development efforts.
The Mayor praised Monroe College’s leadership.
Barnes & Noble College manages the day-to-day operations of Monroe’s bookstores on its campuses in New Rochelle and the Bronx. The retailer serves more than five million students and faculty members across 751 campus stores nationwide.
Founded in 1933, New York-based Monroe College is a nationally ranked private institution of higher learning with "a real world learning approach that prioritizes hands-on academic experiences, practical and relevant academic programs, flexible learning schedules, best-in-class instructional technologies, and committed and engaged faculty to ensure that students are well positioned for career success upon graduation."