Starbucks is not the best we can do

Monica Bagnoli // The Flat Hat

Agavni Mehrabi ’26 is planning to double major in government and finance. Outside of the Flat Hat, Agavni is a member of Radio Club and Archery Club. Email Agavni at almehrabi@wm.edu

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

For those of you who haven’t noticed, the College of William and Mary has commenced quite the culinary cultivation process as of late. No, I’m not referencing the now hollow remains of the Daily Grind or Qdoba’s death. I’m pointing to the new Starbucks that’s being built by the Wawa on Richmond Road. 

Now, I’ve heard arguments in favor of this Starbucks. For one thing, there’s its off-campus location. Yes, the proximity offered by the on-campus locations make them peak pit stops for a class-to-class refuel. They’re also the perfect purveyors of a quick morning pick-me-up. 

But what about those situations call for a weekend getaway? Distance can go a long way for marking an occasion, whether it’s a matter of catching up with companions or grabbing a sip with that special someone. It can even be a simple solitary excursion. Forget convenience; sometimes a student just wants to break free from the buildings where the ghosts of essays past lurk between each brick.

Then there’s been musings that maybe, just maybe, its off-campus status means compatibility with the Starbucks app. As in, all of those gift cards snubbed by the ISC and Boehly Cafe locations might finally find a home. As in, all of those empty cups might finally translate to reward points for full cups in the future. 

But such hopes are likely to be for naught. After all, the wallscape surrounding the construction boasts involvement by the William and Mary Real Estate Foundation. For background, its homepage says its mission is “to acquire, hold, manage, sell, lease and participate in the development of real properties in support of the educational goals of William & Mary.” 

It’s the same group responsible for Tribe Square, home to the glorious Chick-fil-A. The Chick-fil-A which, notably, does not accept gift cards. Expecting Starbucks to be any different is rather optimistic.

As for the other point, defending the new Starbucks based on its off-campus charm risks ignoring existing options. Colonial Williamsburg already offers several caffeine corners. There’s the illy Caffé on Duke of Gloucester Street, which serves European-style espresso and platters. The heart-shaped latte art, ceramic tableware and aesthetically pleasing interior decor leave little to be desired. For anyone with Tribe Pride nostalgia, there’s an Aroma’s on Prince George Street. With offerings that don’t just include but also exceed those of its Sadler and Swem siblings, its selection is sure to satisfy. 

Finally, there’s Wawa. While Starbucks itself is by no means cheap, those repelled by the previous two spots can find a safe haven in this old favorite. It houses a diverse array of drinks, at minimal punch to the pocket. There’s self-serve hot joe for the classic customer, but there’s also iced, seasonally syrupy specials for the sweet tooths out there. Altogether, in terms of coffee beyond the borders, there’s already something for everyone at the College. Those who emphasize the need for this new Starbucks as an off-campus alternative don’t give existing options enough credit. 

For these reasons, the lot beside Wawa should not be made into a Starbucks. It should not be another coffee shop, period. Rather, it should be set aside for an easily affordable, universally helpful, food-centered establishment. 

Not everyone needs a coffee shop, and those who do already have the means to satiate their cravings. What most college students can certainly appreciate is a fast food joint. Study strained and cafeteria starved, many could use the comforting, stomach filling properties that greasy grub provides. 

Right now, the only chain within sizable walking distance is Chick-fil-A. According to Apple Maps, the closest Chipotle is about a half an hour walk away. The story isn’t any different for McDonald’s, which is 37 minutes away by foot. Such travel times act as barriers to those with tight schedules. Not to mention, there’s plenty of walking already attached to campus life. 

With that said, our students deserve an end to this fast food desert. They deserve for the lot beside Wawa to be made into something that responds to what the community currently lacks, not to add to what it already has. And they deserve for that something to be sensitive to the student budget even though, and actually because, the same unfortunately cannot be said for most businesses in the surrounding area. 

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Agavni Mehrabi is looking to double major in Government and Finance. She is from Miami, Florida, where she worked for her high school newspaper before starting her time on the Flat Hat as an intern. In terms of other student organizations, she's a part of Archery Club, Radio Club, Moot Court, and Library Ambassadors. In her free time, you can catch her worshipping the Snicker's Latte, jotting down poetry, or wrangling her friends into mini adventures.

1 COMMENT

  1. You completely forgot The Bake Shop as an off campus dining option, which accepts dining dollars. Crafted food, amazing coffee, affordable and walkable.

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