By Mark Stetzer and Mark Stetsinger | 11:23 a.m.
Nov. 10It was a sunny day in August.
A handful of men and women were standing in line at a Starbucks in the center of the town of Livingston, New Jersey, just off the Hudson River.
For some reason, this was the first Starbucks that had opened in the area, and a sign announced that the coffee shop was offering “a special seasonal menu.”
The employees and the customers were all in the same mood.
There were so many people queuing, and there were so few Starbucks to choose from.
“So I just walked in and the line was so long, and I just started yelling,” said one of the first people to come inside, Michael DeRosa, who had just started his first year as a chef at the Starbucks.
“And the lady behind the counter was like, ‘I can’t do that.'”
A few months earlier, the chain had opened a Starbucks across the street from the one DeRos had just joined.
The store, called Starbucks Village, was a throwback to the 1930s, when the neighborhood had a population of about 50,000.
The Starbucks had a bar, a barbershop, a grocery store and a small diner.
The new branch was meant to be a more upscale option, and to give the locals a chance to get some free stuff.
But the people lining up outside the store didn’t seem to have a lot of interest in that.
They were mostly here to get a free coffee or something, and it was almost impossible to get anywhere without getting one.
“We were like, this is a great idea, but this is so expensive,” said DeRoso, who worked at Starbucks Village as a dishwasher for five years.
“So they just made it free, and they gave it to everybody.
And everybody liked it.”
It took two years to open the Starbucks Village branch.
The first few years were a tough slog.
There weren’t enough customers to keep the line moving.
The barbers were so busy, they couldn’t stay late enough to get people dressed.
And it wasn’t until last year, when Starbucks introduced a free drink for every new customer, that things began to pick up.
The restaurant has now become the most popular restaurant in Livingston, and DeRoSs wife is now the company’s franchisee.
The couple opened a new restaurant this year called the Village Inn, and the business is thriving.
They’re still looking for customers, but DeRoscos is getting calls every day from people wanting to try their own version of the menu.
The line outside the Starbucks was longer than the one at the restaurant.
But DeROSs customers are no strangers to queues.
The small barbershops in the neighborhood that used to serve coffee were a big draw for them.
They also liked to have free haircuts and make-up sessions, so DeRosenas barbers cut out the wait and let customers try on their own hair and makeup.
They even started a hair salon, which was the perfect solution to the problems DeRoes hair salon was having with its customers.
But with the Starbucks’ new menu, the barbers are now able to offer more free haircares.
“The customers are happy, because the barber’s not having to come here anymore, and you can just have the barbed-wire fencing that they used to have,” DeRossos said.
“They’ve got more people here.”
The first Starbucks restaurant opened in Livingston in the mid-1990s.
But by 2009, there were about 15 stores that served the local community.
Today, there are more than 100.
“It’s not that the food is bad,” DeRosos said, “because it’s delicious.
It’s just the people, and we’ve just gotten to where we are now, and if you were here ten years ago, you would not have even thought about it.
It would have been like, why would you want to go to a place like this?”
But we’re not going to let that go.”