To Go Tea.. How important is speed to you?

As some of you may know we’re exploring opening a store in NYC’s SoHo district. The topic of to go has come up many times in the discussions of our designs for the layout.

My question to you is this: Would you walk to the back of a store (to its cafe area) to get a tea to go on a regular basis? Or would you get fed up with the extra walk and prefer it at the entrance? To better understand, the spaces we’ve looked at are all long and rectangular.

Since tea is something that should be made to order, it’s not necessarily a grab and go thing like a hot cuppa coffee might be. Also a problem I foresee is creating a bottleneck at the entrance of the store; preventing traffic flow into the shop, as well as preventing customers from seeing all our lovely other wares and tasty treats.

10 Replies
Joker said

How about a tea service hot & iced on the sidewalk out front (with specials) when the weather is nice? For full menu choices go to the cafe.

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Landmarks district tends to not be too keen on that kind of stuff on the sidewalk. In the winter it might be a bit cold for my employees too! ;-)

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having been to many long skinny Starbucks stores if you make it CLEAR how everyone is supposed to queue I think placing an order and paying up front, and then walk to the back bar for pickup works fine. It also takes some time to prepare the tea, and making people walk back also enables the wait time to seem shorter (perception not reality).

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Suzi said

At a Teavana I visited recently, they had samples in the doorway (which did cause a bottleneck) but their Tea bar/cashiers area ran almost the entire length of the store against the wall. While you waited in line you shopped on your right, but if you looked left you could watch your tea get made.

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I would be fine with going to the back of the store and waiting a bit for a to-go cup of tea done right. The only thing I wouldn’t like is if there was not a nicely defined waiting area – I hate when I am standing in a cafe area where customers are trying to relax or work – I feel like I am standing it their space and feel very awkward. I will avoid those places. Some places have a very small waiting area that almost looks like a bar – two or three stools…nothing that would make you want to linger but a little area that makes your wait pleasant and comfortable.

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When I lived in NYC I had no problem with walks to the back of a store, particularly in winter where you can avoid the inrush of cold air every time the door opens. As long as there’s enough room for both ingress and egress at the same time in the long narrow space, I wouldn’t think that would be a problem. It’s not the walk so much as the inability to get to where you need to go past other bodies that would be the deterrent, at least for me.

The more relevant question I think is how you’re able to manage the traffic flow and what the average wait time for both standing in line and preparation of a drink is. Most New Yorkers are used to waits, but that doesn’t mean they like long ones. :-)

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Thanks for the input guys! This is helping us out a lot :).


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Harfatum said

Short answer: yes, I definitely would, if the tea were good. Maybe less so in NY, but around here it’s pretty hard to find a good cup of tea and would definitely be worth a short walk through a store. The upside for you would be that you’d get to put specific products nearby for people to see / realize they want. Stuff that would make people say “Hey! I want one of those.” more than specialized things, I’d think.

Rabs said

I totally agree with going to the back would be preferred for many of the reasons already stated (especially knowing where to order/wait/pickup, the easing of a potential bottleneck, being away from an opening door in bad weather).

Harfatum totally brought up what I found most important — if there are impulse buys and other neat things to look at/buy then I’d enjoy my time more and might spend more money. It’d also help give me a little more time in making my decision or seeing what my options are.

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Ricky admin said

Pay at front, pick up at the back like Starbucks works perfectly.

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