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Campus cafés reopen after 18 months

<h5>The menu at Coffee Club located in Campus Club.</h5>
<h6>Julian Gottfried / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
The menu at Coffee Club located in Campus Club.
Julian Gottfried / The Daily Princetonian

Alongside the resumption of in-person instruction, two favorite locales of the University campus have reopened — Coffee Club and Murray-Dodge Café. Both institutions function primarily by and for Princeton students, providing unique spaces to study and socialize.

Located at 5 Prospect Avenue, Coffee Club can be found in the downstairs Tap Room of Campus Club. It was established in 2019, and with a staff of 31 students, Coffee Club is the only entirely student-run coffee shop in the Princeton area.

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At the start of the semester, Coffee Club was allowed to reopen after 18 months of being closed. 

“Congregating means so much now,” said Katie Heinzer ’22, a barista at Coffee Club and podcast editor for The Daily Princetonian. 

While the club is currently not hosting large-scale indoor events, it still functions as a place for students to congregate and socialize, especially with the backyard as an outdoor alternative. 

“The events have changed, but the spirit of them is the same,” noted Heinzer.

Already, students experiencing Coffee Club for the first time this semester are coming to know and appreciate it. 

“I love it because the environment is really cute, and everyone that works there is so nice,” said Sarah Pedersen ’24. “In the first two weeks, I’ve already filled up a full punch card. So to say the least, I’m obsessed.”

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Part of Coffee Club’s unique appeal is that it is entirely run by students.

“It’s people who want to do this and to work for the experience [Coffee Club] provides to both the customer and yourself,” explained Heinzer. 

While the downstairs space offers a more social environment, for those who would prefer a quiet place to study, the upper floors of Campus Club provide a convenient alternative. 

“It’s pretty ideal for studying and socializing,” Heinzer noted. “You don’t really have to pick one or the other.”

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On the other hand, Murray-Dodge Café offers “a Frist-type study environment,” said Juliet Sturge ’23, one of its two student managers. 

While virtual, Murray-Dodge Café produced a weekly baking-focused newsletter. But like Coffee Club, this fall, it was able to open in person for the first time since students were sent home in March 2020. 

Hidden in the basement of Dodge Hall, Murray-Dodge Café is an underground space that not only serves as a place for students to study, but also provides free coffee, tea, and fresh-baked goods. 

However, the recent construction on campus somewhat obscures the entrance to the café, making it more difficult for students to spontaneously stumble upon its basement door.

While it “used to really be an institution on campus,” noted Sturge, “it’s now a place students kind of have to be ‘in the know’ about.”

Once discovered, though, Murray-Dodge Café provides students with a unique experience. 

“The cookies were delicious — I couldn’t believe it was all free,” said Ana Palacios ’24, a recent first-time visitor to the café. 

The fact that everything at Murray-Dodge Café is free not only makes it a convenient option, but also contributes to its singular environment. 

“There’s no exchange of money, so it’s very casual — there’s usually no line,” added Sturge. 

In addition, students are welcome to make suggestions to the staff about the café’s ever-evolving menu of baked goods, which is vegan on Wednesdays and gluten-free on Sundays. 

For those interested, Coffee Club is open weekdays from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Murray-Dodge Café is open daily 3 p.m. - 12 a.m. 

Eliza Shaffer is a news contributor at the 'Prince.' She can be contacted at elizas@princeton.edu. 

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