Preview: The Bridge Cafe | The American Word

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Preview: The Bridge Cafe

Campus’ new hangout spot (that also serves coffee)

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

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

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.”




Facebook: @The
Bridge Cafe