Rise and grind: Meet the night owls of Athens who make late night cram sessions possible

Pulling your first all nighter is a right of passage for college students. From the copious amount of energy drinks you consume, to the way your eyes seem to melt into the back of their sockets, to discovering that your laptop totally makes a great pillow after 4 a.m.  Nothing screams college more than busting out an eight page research paper in the back of a coffee shop while the rest of the world catches some Z’s.

Economics senior Mari Otero looks over her Econ notes shortly after 2 a.m. at Union Street Diner

But what about the people who support those late nights? Someone has to make that triple espresso that you have IV’d to your arm, and play the latest acoustic jams that mellow out the early morning.

We hate to see them but we love their work. Their presence not only signals third shift is about to begin, but also the realization that you probably shouldn’t have procrastinated so much on your projects. They’re the brave men and women who make it possible for you to pump out a semester’s worth of work in a single night. Whether you need some early morning fuel or a late night pick me up, they have your back. They’re the early risers and night owls who work in the coffee shops and diners in town.

At Ohio University,  three local spots are known by everyone. Donkey Coffee at 17 1/2 W. Washington St., Brenen’s Coffee Cafe at 38 S. Court St. and Union Street Diner at 70 W. Union St. have been servicing the Athens crowd for 13, 16 and five years respectively. Customers are guaranteed to always be greeted by a smiling face, even if their own face isn’t so lively.

Brenen’s Coffee Cafe

Brenen’s was founded in 2000 and has been a huge hit ever since. Pittsburgh native Erin Pogue, a senior studying strategic communications, has been working at the cafe since fall 2013, her freshman year. Pogue works a varying schedule of opening and closing shifts but definitely prefers to open.

“I think the best part about an opening shift is how calm Athens is at that time,” she said. “It’s usually before most other students are getting their days started so you can really notice how peaceful Court Street can be walking into work.”

Beautiful scenery aside, getting in at 6 a.m. throughout the week for work still isn’t a fun time. When asked about the downside of opening, Pogue commented:

“The worst part is definitely waking up. Luckily, working at a coffee shop makes it easy to get some caffeine in me once I get in.”

There are some saving graces that come with the sunrise shift though. Pogue says she loves seeing the regulars who come through every morning, along with her coworkers.

“We have a great staff working at Brenen’s. It makes a big difference when you have a great team working with you and keeping things running smoothly when you work together. Going into work is always easier when you get to work with friends and have a lot of fun while getting the job done.”

When asked if she’s ever witnessed anything weird or noteworthy during her closing shift, Pogue had one oh-so-Athens story.

Erin Pogue preps the coffee machines
Erin Pogue preps coffee machines during a slow period during her shift

“You never know what you’re going to get when you have a closing shift on a busy weekend,” she said. “A guy came in off Court Street in a falling-apart costume, couldn’t manage to form full sentences when trying to tell us his order, then grabbed a baguette off the counter and ran out before we even had time to finish his sandwich. Luckily he had already paid!”

It’s like Bobcats say, “Athens happens.”

Donkey Coffee and Espresso

Six hundred and sixty three feet down the street and around the corner, just off the intersection of Court Street and East State is another Athens favorite, Donkey Coffee and Espresso. Open since 2003 and ran by Chris and Angie Pyle, Donkey has successfully been serving the locals “caffeine with a conscience” and has a long history of giving the town a space to be creative.

Moira Snuffer, a sculpture and expanded practice senior from Columbus, has been working at Donkey since June 2015.  She mainly works the opening shift, which means crawling out of bed and getting into the shop by 6:30 a.m.

Moira Snuffer, opening Donkey Barista, is all smiles, even at 7 a.m.
Moira Snuffer, opening Donkey barista. All smiles, even at 7 a.m.

Her favorite part about opening is getting a chance to just be by herself and start the day at her own pace.

“Opening is kinda nice because you’re by yourself and it’s this time to have your space,” Snuffer said. “It’s a nice way to start your day—to be here by yourself and do monotonous work.”

While nothing too crazy has ever happened during her closing shifts, she did have a story about an unexpected interaction this year on halloween:

Union Street Diner

Then there’s Union Street Diner, the go-to spot for anyone suffering from the late night munchies. The 24 hour mom and pop storefront has been in business since 2011 and caters to all walks of life, offering spacious seating, fair prices and friendly faces every hour of the day.

USD has personally reenergized me on multiple occasions (the BLT and pancakes are tier 1) and any place that offers milkshakes at 5 a.m. deserves a head nod.

My last visit to the diner introduced me to Ashley. Ashley has officially been working at Union Street Diner since August of this year, and strictly works third shift. Though working so late can be brutal, the shift time actually fits her overall schedule perfectly. Ashley and her husband are parents to a beautiful two-year-old so the odd times lets both of them work without the need of a babysitter. In regards to her coworkers, she loves them.

“We’re all very laid back. It’s a family here” she said.

While Ashley never went to college, she did become a certified nursing assistant when she was a junior in high school. When it comes to the few things she doesn’t enjoy about her job, Ashley simply can’t stand when students come in and vomit.

You can’t win them all.

Third year computer science major Justin Mosley takes a break from studying for his software tools exam
Third year computer science major Justin Mosley takes a break from studying for his software tools exam

Court Street stories, a look back

Court Street holds a special place in the hearts of many Bobcats and the city of Athens. Something’s always happening on or nearby the street and I’ve selected three current Athens residents to talk a little about their experiences on the bricks. Here’s Alexis, Ben and Branner on some memories they tell at parties.

Monday roundup: Today, tomorrow and yesterday around Athens

1. Parents Weekend
Week six of the semester brought the first special weekend of the semester, Parents Weekend. For many students, this weekend was the first opportunity they’ve had to lay eyes on their parents since they left home for OU six weeks ago. For soon-to-be graduates, it was their first “Last__weekend as a Bobcat” of the semester. Parents weekend brought many emotions and memories along with plenty of opportunities for Bobcats to show their parents a good time.

Outdoor pursuits gave students and parents plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors together with group ziplining and stargazing events throughout the weekend.

Other families opted to do what Bobcats traditionally do when a special weekend rolls around – hit the bars. Entrance queues for many bars were lengthy, leaving many patrons disgruntled. For those who could get in, throwback music could be heard coming out of speakers as opposed to the normal radio top 40 hits. Despite the crowds, many families found a way to entertain themselves with some opting to host controlled parties at off-campus housing.

2. Ohio Athletics
Ohio football and volleyball both held home matches this week to keep parents and students alike entertained. The football team played a very intense game against visiting FCS team Gardner-Webb and came out on top 37-21. The game was the first opportunity of the season for RS FR quarterback Quinton Maxwell to gain some playing time and he didn’t disappoint, throwing for 167 passing-yards and two touchdowns in his Ohio debut. The game was also coach Frank Solich’s 140th career win and the first home win of the season for Ohio.

Indoors, Ohio volleyball came out on top over Buffalo in a thrilling 3-0 win. The win put Ohio 2-0 in Mid-American Conference play for the season and featured Redshirt junior middle blocker Ali Lake lead Ohio with a match-high 13 kills. The match also saw sophomore setter Stephanie Olman distribute a match-high 39 assists for Ohio.

3. Campus Update
With another fun-filled Ohio University Parents Weekend behind us, students look forward to what’s coming up around campus this week.

  • Monday and Tuesday feature the Career and Internship fair in the Baker Center ballroom. The fair runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both days. After Monday’s fair, there will be a “Night of Networking” event starting at 5 p.m. and running until 6:30 p.m.
  • Guest speaker and award winning author/writer Onyeka Nwelue will be in the Multicultural Center Multipurpose (Baker 219) to give a presentation on “What Young Africans Are Writing – An Africa Crossroads event”
  • The OU NAACP and Black Student Union organizations are organizing a plan of action to address what they feel is a lack of accountability when it comes to hate speech around campus following the Tuesday, Sept. 20 incident where the campus’ graffiti wall was defaced with disrespectful language and images.
  • Holzer opened a new clinic uptown last week. The clinic hopes to draw in university students along with anyone else in the area. The clinic is now the third Holzer location within Athens.

4. Feel the burn
This week offers several opportunities for students to get up, get out and get active – or at least watch other people sweat.

  • Ping Center will be hosting its final “Yoga on the Lawn” series on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The event is free to Ohio University students and those with a Ping membership.
  • Outdoor Pursuits is holding a bouldering clinic for students to come out and learn how to, well, boulder across rock formations on Tuesday, Sep 27 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Ping Center.
  • Bird Arena will be hosting open skate on Tuesday and Thursday. Rec skate is set to begin at 8:30 p.m. and runs until 10 p.m.
  • Ohio Soccer takes on Western Michigan on Friday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. at Chessa Field
  • Ohio Field Hockey takes on Central Michigan at 5 p.m. on Pruitt Field
  • Ohio Hockey takes on Kent State in Bird Arena on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7:30.

(Daniel Kubus | Staff Photographer)

5. Tweet of the week

If you did something cool and didn’t tweet about it, did it really happen? Social media is everything nowadays and there’s no better use for it than to show off your friends. This week’s tweet of the week comes from Meryl Hadlock and features her friend Weidner doing something only slightly illegal.

 

Have a great week Bobcats!

The best hole in the wall this side of the Hocking

Whether it’s your grandma’s house, the treehouse your dad built for you when you were a kid or your favorite home team’s arena, everyone has a special place in their life that’s always welcoming and makes them feel right at home, and I’m no different.

It’s the go-to meetup location anytime one of my friends comes back to town. It was stop number one on my first green beer day outing. It’s where I go to trash talk the Steelers to my favorite bartender in Athens. Simply put, it’s The Pub.

Since 1974, The Pub has been servicing the Athens community with its great burgers, great beer and great beer cheese soup. The bartenders are always friendly, there’s always a game worth watching on and if you happen to stumble in on a saturday night, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. For the last couple of months The Pub has turned into the go to spot for me and my friends. After ending classes on friday we all meet up together at 4, just in time to catch the start of our favorite bartender’s shift, to catch up and hang out. The lack of other people in the middle of the afternoon and the friendly face behind the counter makes it feel like we own the place and that we’re right at home.

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My first trip to this wonderful establishment was in the middle of summer 2015 when a buddy asked me if I had ever had their food. I admitted that I had never been which then led to him dragging me to the restaurant. From the second I walked in I could feel The Pub’s character everywhere I looked. The worn down wooden floors showed that many a patrons had been through, the scratched tables and booths hinted at the decades of post-class meetups that had gone down and the townies that lined the bar on that Thursday afternoon told me I was at a place worth staying. We sat down, ate and enjoyed the atmosphere. Then we did it again the following week. And the rest is history.

Whether it’s a weekday afternoon or a weekend night out with some friends, The Pub is the one-stop-shop for a good time in Athens. You’ll come for the cheap drinks and stay because of the great time you’re destined to have with the reassurance that the headache you have in the morning is because of a great time you had the night before.