Students of Georgetown, Inc.’s Uncommon Grounds coffee shop opened Monday on the second floor of the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the Leavey Center, almost a month after the start of the fall semester.
The opening was delayed by an inspection by the Department of Health required for all new restaurants in Washington, D.C.
Uncommon Grounds, which had been located in Sellinger Lounge since its opening 23 years ago, moved into the newly renovated bookstore over the summer. This occurred as the interior of the Leavey Center saw major renovations, including the installment of restaurants such as Crop Chop, a salad smoothie shop, and Chick-fil-A in the space formerly known as Hoya Court.
Some members of The Corp had initial concerns that the new site, which opens onto the Leavey Esplanade, was relatively unknown to students and would not get as much foot traffic. Members were also concerned that competition from Georgetown-contracted restaurants would exacerbate the issue.
Uncommon Grounds Director Leia Idliby (COL ’18) said she shared those concerns but felt more confident following the success of the opening day.
“I first heard about [the move] in December, and I started to get a little nervous and worried once I realized I was probably going to be director, but now I’m super excited because it’s going really well. I’ve been getting a lot of compliments about the new space. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s really coming together,” Idliby said.
Hoya Snaxa Manager Caroline Moley (COL ’18) said the new location will serve students better.
“I feel like it’s less distracting and more like a coffee shop. The other one had better foot traffic, but the seating wasn’t as good and they didn’t have the esplanade,” Moley said.
Uncommon Grounds announced Monday a series of promotions on its Facebook page to celebrate the first week opening, including an open mic night with free coffee refills Tuesday, 50 percent off all breakfast items on Wednesday, lemonade pitchers for purchase on Thursday and a free small espresso drink on Friday for those who attend three or more Uncommon Grounds opening events this week.
Idliby said that while open mic nights are an Uncommon Grounds tradition, immediate access to the esplanade will allow for some alterations and improvements to the event.
“We’ve always had open mic nights on Tuesdays, but now that we have this open space, we’re probably going to take advantage of it while it’s warm and sit outside,” Idliby said.
Uncommon Grounds Director of Marketing MacKenna Strange (COL ’19) said the new open space can help emphasize the store’s focus on the arts and music with a series of upcoming events, including poetry slams.
“My goal going into this semester is to revamp our appreciation for the arts and making UG a more arts-centered location on campus. So we’re doing a sleeve collaboration and a poetry slam with Bossier. Our first open mic night is tomorrow, and we’re hopefully going to do an open mic night in collaboration with the Comedy Club,” Strange said.
As well as hosting arts events, the store will be open on Saturday as a flea market to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
Calvin Griffin (COL ’19), who is organizing the market, said the vicinity of the Leavey Esplanade means there is enough space to host a market.
“I really wanted to leave my mark on the new UG, and the new location gave me a cool opportunity to do something like that. I think it’s something Georgetown needs, because I know so many people who just throw out their clothes,” Griffin said.
Despite physical changes, Strange said employees of Uncommon Grounds wish for the coffee shop to remain the cultural center customers know it to be.
“I think that’s what separates UG from the other coffee shops on campus. Every Corp location has their own thing, their own brand, and we are known for loving and appreciating music and being a space that’s not just academic,” Strange said.