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Preview: The Bridge Cafe

Campus’ new hangout spot (that also serves coffee)

By Kimberly Cataudella | 9/25/17 9:00am | Updated 9/25/17 2:41pm
Kimberly Cataudella / American Word Magazine

Picture this: Comfortable chairs scattered with vibrantly colored throw pillows, an antique chessboard, Rock em’ Sock em’ robots, a record player, an X-Box, cable TV, tea candles on wooden tables, chalkboard walls, every board game imaginable, rustic wooden tables with matching benches and a huge window that allows sunlight to pour into every corner of the room.

Could it be Grandma’s den? A bachelor’s pad? Your childhood playroom? The college dorm room of your wildest dreams?

Nope, it’s the newest addition to American University’s campus: The Bridge Cafe.

The Bridge Cafe’s soft opening was on Friday, Sept. 15, and students were able to get the full feel of what the cafe will look like for the year to come. The grand opening is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 3.

For this week, The Bridge will be open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., but beginning in October, the cafe will remain open until midnight. The cafe is currently cash-only, but they are working on getting an Eagle Bucks reader installed in the cafe soon.

“AU wanted this to be a late-night space available to students,” David Gonzalez, event manager of student activities, said. “Our demographic is students and faculty who are [often up late], but not limited to grad students and full families. We hope everyone is able to enjoy the atmosphere.”

The main objective for The Bridge Cafe is to have students recognize that the space is essentially wet clay, malleable and accommodating for almost any request students may have. The Bridge is also a designated safe space for students of color on campus.

The chalkboard walls allow for students to write requests on them, like asking if an event can be held within the space or asking if The Bridge can sell a certain kind of drink. Requests can also be sent in by email. The Bridge’s e-board hopes that students realize how much they affect what happens within the cafe.

“We are most excited for students to realize that this is a ‘student sandbox,’” Gonzalez said. “If [students] want to have something and can explain why it would work in the setting of the cafe, we can do it. No other space on campus offers that option.”

This same approach can be applied to the food and drinks the cafe sells as well. If anyone has a special request for a special brand of chocolate milk or latte flavoring, for example, they can let the baristas know, and it can eventually get stocked, Gonzalez said.

The cafe offers a typical menu of coffee and espresso selections, like cappuccinos, iced lattes and Arnold Palmers. The most expensive menu item is the large nitro cold brew coffee, “because it is made with nitrogen,” Darcy Fraley, associate director of facilities and event services (and barista) said.  

The nitro cold brew, made with homemade simple syrups, is a menu highlight. The nitrogen makes the coffee more caffeinated, perfect for a midday pick me up. The Bridge has been training their baristas – all AU students – to make them perfectly. Though barista positions at The Bridge are currently filled, you can check back periodically throughout the year to see if the cafe is hiring.

While the typical cafe menu remains as-is for now, The Bridge will implement “The Barista’s Choice” later into its operations. It will be a specialty, made by one of the cafe’s employees. Whether it’s a barista’s complex favorite or seasonal concoction, the price won’t be much higher than the rest of the menu, Fraley said.

“We have a record player [in the cafe], and we recognize that not many students have the ability to play the records that they keep in their dorm rooms,” Gonzalez said. “I know that people on the quad sell records too, so we’re excited to give students that platform. Again, it’s not something other spaces on campus offer.”

In addition, AU’s own Speak Fresh poetry slam will be held the last Friday of every month, and the date of the first event will be Friday, Sept. 29. AU’s student jazz band will be performing every two weeks. A Q&A series with AU professors will be coming in October. Hopefully, some “tailgate” parties can happen within the cafe for fall football season.

On the back wall, Photo Collective currently has an exhibit titled “Welcome to Washington.” Each month, the cafe will swap out art, featuring student photography, paintings and other visual platforms, Chris Young, assistant director for student involvement, said.

Students can even submit their own work to potentially be featured. The Bridge will soon open a contest to AU students to create a campus map in whichever visual interpretation they please, Gonzalez said. More details on submissions will be released by The Bridge at a later date.

Students filling the wooden benches and wall-lined couches had overall positive and excited reactions toward The Bridge.

“It’s different from other options on campus,” an AU student said. “You can’t play records or an X-Box at the Dav.”


Twitter: @TheBridgeCafeAU

Instagram: @TheBridgeCafe_AU

Facebook: @The Bridge Cafe