lifestyle blog -- stories and features
While most go to Starbucks for their morning coffee, I go for these people. When it comes to coffee, I am what you call a "weak" drinker. When I do drink coffee, I have to load it up with tons of creamer and Splenda to be able to handle it.
These ladies have mastered my favorite "Patty" smoothie that over time we have mixed and changed and laughed over. It starts out with what we call "frozen chocolate milk." Cold non-fat milk, 1.5 pumps of their superb mocha, frozen, double blended is the mixture. They use what they call "banana ice" to get the frozen technique. This originally came from the drink that is called a "Vivanno." The Vivanno contained either strawberries or bananas and protein powder. I am highly allergic to any type of strawberries, fake or real. My stomach doesn't handle protein powder of any sorts. When it comes to bananas that is where we laugh the most. If the bananas have any type of spots on them I won't touch them. I don't even want to look at them. I like them when they just turn yellow from the green when they are picked.
I have been coming in the Starbucks on Kavanaugh for years. I would come in and look at the bananas and they were either ripe beyond my personal choice, or gone from other customers purchasing the bananas to eat. I would run up to the Kroger around the corner and purchase bunches of the bananas so that I could have my smoothie. One day it was raining so hard and no bananas were to be found. I thought let's just make it without the banana. Crystal (pictured in the middle) mixed it first as the normal smoothie except without the banana. It was literally frozen chocolate milk the first few times. One day magic occurred and the "Patty" smoothie was born.
Vanessa (pictured left) asked for my name years ago for the drink label. I said it is Pat. She looked at me "I'll call you Patricia" she said. Crystal refers to me as Ms. Patty. Thus the drink "Patty" was born. We even joked that we need a "Patty" button to ring it up faster and for the barista's that are new.
What makes this Starbucks so special? It isn't the drink mastered over time. It is the hospitality and exceedingly customer service that you receive. My morning would not be the same if I didn't stop in before work. These folks fill my morning with laughter and conversations. Gabby (pictured right) hasn't been working as long as Vanessa and Crystal but she has filled my heart with smiles and love.
I sat down with these fine ladies for a spotlight feature along with Store Manager, Gabriel Saldana.
Vanessa, I have known the longest. She is a delight and full of laughter and smiles. This photo best describes her. Vanessa is happily married for over 30 years, has two children and speaks of them often. Vanessa takes the time to wish everyone a great morning and goes beyond showing hospitality by genuinely carrying to hear your stories. Vanessa loves to spend time reading and learning. She spends most of her off time devoted to helping others and working with various non-profit organizations. Vanessa is an outstanding person and has shown much love and laughter over the years.
The master of all barista's in my book. Crystal is 30 and single. However, she does speak of a boyfriend often. . . sorry guys...she is off limits. Crystal prides herself in showing hospitality. She loves to read and is known as the "cupcake" lady. She loves to bake cupcakes and her friends love them. Crystal will work diligently to make sure that your drink order is perfect. I think she is the only person that I haven't mind calling me Patty. I have a plan to try-out these famous cupcakes of hers later.
Gabby is a doll. She is 20 years old and full of smiles and laughter. She also loves to read on her off time. Greg and I were eating dinner not long ago at On The Border. Gabby spotted us and ran over to tell me hello and gave a hug. She has mastered "The Patty" drink to perfection. If this smile won't get your morning kicked off with a good start, I don't know what will.
Meet "Gabe" Gabriel
At first, I am sure Gabe thought I was a little crazier than most. I like to joke about the bananas and before we mastered the "Patty" without them, I wouldn't get a drink. Gabe would make sure that those bananas were at the store. This Starbucks doesn't use frozen bananas, they make sure the bananas are fresh. Most people will eat a banana ripe and won't care about the spots. I would joke and say please hide those bananas so I can't see them. He would get tickled.
Gabriel Saldana is a superb store manager. He has been with Starbucks for 12 years. Gabe moved to Little Rock six years ago with his wife. They have four boys ages, 8, 7, 6 and 1 and a half. He enjoys spending his time playing with those boys and keeping them in fun activities.
"Customer Feedback" is the most important thing to Starbucks, states Gabe. Starbucks has developed many of their drinks and coffee varieties from customer feedback. This location goes beyond hospitality and customer service. I have seen the same customers every morning for years stopping at this location. The store is friendly, clean, and customer service is their priority.
I look around and see the same group of men sitting on the couches in the lobby. I hear their conversations regarding life, sports, politics and the morning news. I spoke with some of them and they said they have been coming to this location for over 15 years. That says it all!
Starbucks on Kavanaugh is a neighborhood cafe, located in the prestige old neighborhood known as the "Heights." Come in, grab a coffee, pastry or sandwich and enjoy the conversations, smiles, and laughter. Give "Patty" a try, you just might like her.
Located at: 5719 Kavanaugh Blvd, Little Rock, AR 72207 Open from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Monday - Friday, 5:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Saturdays and 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday's.
xoxo - Pat
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