- Recently, Business Insider embarked on a mission to different shops and cafes in Manhattan to find the best places to do work without a WeWork membership.
- Starbucks took the top spot, followed closely by a surprising upstart: Au Bon Pain.
- In fact, there’s a secret Au Bon Pain nestled in an unexpected corner of Manhattan. Located in a nondescript office building steps from Radio City Music Hall and Rockefeller Center, this Au Bon Pain was quiet, spacious, and well-stocked – something difficult to find in Manhattan.
- If you’re a remote worker looking for a centrally located spot in Manhattan to get things done, look no further.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
With WeWork unsteady, remote work on the rise, and New York City still absurdly expensive (and crowded), New Yorkers and visitors trying to get work done outside of the office face a difficult dilemma. I experienced this firsthand when I embarked upon a quest to determine which coffee shops are best to do work in.
Unsurprisingly, most were cramped and loud. On top of the many New Yorkers yelling into their phones, most also blasted playlists. I could barely hear myself think, and the lack of outlets left my phone battery dangerously low.
But there’s an affordable and quiet respite hiding in the wilds of Midtown. Easily accessible by subway – and by foot, if you’re enjoying Madison Square Park or Bryant Park – with a delightfully ambient soundtrack, this may just become my new go-to spot in Manhattan.
Welcome to the Au Bon Pain at 1251 6th Avenue.
Upon arriving, I discovered that there was a whole outdoor patio area — perfect for anyone looking to enjoy the fall weather.
On a surprisingly warm Friday afternoon, patrons worked on laptops, read, and chatted on the patio.
The fridges were well stocked, and salad and sandwich selection was ample.
Since this is one of Au Bon Pain’s more spacious locations in the city, there was a wide range of food available.
Even though I came in the afternoon, just a few hours before closing, I had my pick of food. While I don’t think Au Bon Pain is going to win any awards for gourmet food, you’d be surprised how often coffee shops in New York burn through their food supply – even my local Starbucks is perpetually under stocked.
There was a wide array of seating, suitable for everything from a co-working group to families visiting from out of town.
If you have out-of-town guests in New York and running around Midtown, this could be a great spot to take a break.
There were 32 outlets in the store, making it a freelancer’s paradise.
For remote workers, laptops are their offices – and that means they’re at the mercy of their battery. After my day in transit, power levels were dangerously low. But pretty much every table at Au Bon Pain had ample outlet access.
Just steps outside of Au Bon Pain was a rare pocket of New York greenery, making it feel all the more hidden.
When I emerged from Au Bon Pain, I found myself in a rare green plaza – an anomaly in Midtown. It made the coffee shop feel all the more hidden.
And right across the street was NBC Studios and “The Tonight Show.”
I didn’t see Jimmy Fallon, but maybe that’s a testament to how secretive this Au Bon Pain is.
Radio City Music Hall, which has hosted iconic concerts (and my college graduation), was right nearby — meaning you could hop straight from Au Bon Pain to a show.
If I had to run to a performance after work, Au Bon Pain seems like a great place to work remotely.
I would definitely return to this Au Bon Pain. As corporate outposts go, it met and exceeded all of my expectations. However, I’ll still try to stick with local coffee shops.
The beauty of a corporate coffee shop is that you generally know what to expect, and it’s not putting a significant strain on finances for you to camp out with your laptop.
Au Bon Pain offered all of that and more – I would definitely return for another productive day. However, I will still do my best to frequent local coffee shops, even if it means squeezing into an outlet-less table with the rest of Manhattan.