In the mood for a Starbucks latte? You have the choice of any one of hundreds of Starbucks throughout D.C. But if you want a chicken breast club with avocado, honey mustard and bacon? GW Deli is the only option. Chances are that years after graduation, that coveted sandwich will still hold a special place in your heart, while Starbucks will still be as clichéd as ever.
As corporate as GW is, we need to desperately hang on to every shred of originality we can get. The coffee stand outside Kogan Plaza, a fixture for the past 15 years, has recently been purchased by sophomore Simone Freeman and renamed Sol Café. Freeman, who is also a Hatchet photographer, now boasts an all-student staff of at least nine employees.
Sol Café is a step in the right direction for bringing some character and entrepreneurial spirit to campus. Small, student-run businesses are good at creating a sense of community and lasting memories for the students they serve. In contrast to Starbucks, where efficiency reigns supreme, frequent customers of Café Sol tend to linger while their coffee cools, striking up conversation and enjoying a few minutes outside between classes.
Long after graduating, alumni will remember buying a cup of coffee from their friend’s business every morning. Quickly grabbing a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee simply doesn’t have the same lasting power that businesses like this produce. In addition to the benefits of having a gathering place unique to GW, the practical advantages of employing students and teaching business skills adds to students’ education.
A few minutes talking about world affairs and the events of a memorable weekend party over a cup of coffee is a pivotal part the college experience. Unlike the fast-paced and impersonal commercial districts that neighbor Foggy Bottom, places like Sol Café add to the character of a college campus. With the slow but seemingly inevitable advance of franchise restaurants and coffee shops, it is important for customers to support these places and even more important for enterprising students to manage them.
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