Apple CEO Tim Cook surprises customers at re-opening of Fifth Avenue store

Apple diehards who lined up outside the revamped Fifth Avenue Apple Store for the iPhone 11 launch got more than they bargained for when chief executive Tim Cook stopped by for a surprise appearance.

The CEO flew in from the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters to officially open the doors of Apple’s iconic glass cube, which had been shuttered for a two-and-a-half-year renovation as the subterranean retail space received a major facelift.

Cook handed out high fives and selfies to the first customers who were lined up to buy the new iPhone 11 smartphone, and greeted hundreds of customers who had lined up since the early morning to buy a new phone.

Apple has more than doubled the 32,000-square-foot area of its flagship store to more than 77,000 square feet, according to MacRumors. The extra space will be used partly by the company’s “Today at Apple” program, which hosts free sessions to teach skills like photography and coding.

To cut back on the store’s basement-like feel, the roof of the subterranean retail space is now pocked with 62 frosted glass skylights. They’re embedded in the street-level Fifth Avenue outdoor plaza in front of the landmark GM Building.

The skylights are ringed by LED lights which change their hue throughout the day. The LEDs are meant to match “the real-time tones of sunlight throughout the day,” according to Apple.

Indeed, the basement store now gets so much light that six massive Green Gem Ficuses are potted inside, with their tops nearly scraping the store’s ceiling.

Apple has also built two new entrances to the store on either side of the plaza to help prevent bottlenecking at its iconic glass entrance.

The store — which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — was a major tourist destination in New York from its opening in 2006 until it closed for renovations in January 2017.

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