Op-Ed: Science Building’s Au Bon Pain Offers Delicious Bites and Hospitality

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Op-Eds detail the views of their writers and are not representative of the stance of the paper. Publication of Op-Eds is not tantamount to an endorsement of their content.

There’s one thing you should know about me: I am a breakfast person. I am not me on Monday morning without food in my system. The 35-minute bus ride to campus leaves me feeling drained and hangry (hungry and angry), unlike my usual self. 

Maybe it’s because the Science Building is closest to me or I want to chat it up with the kindly cashiers in the Au Bon Pain café in the Science Building before I go to the Model UN club meeting at free hour — at any rate — I find myself skirting around the parking lot near the Gate 6 entrance and marching up the wide concrete steps to my favorite food spot on campus.

There’s a second thing you should know about me: I can never resist a grilled chicken and avocado sandwich and a tall strawberry açaí, making the Au Bon Pain café a treasure trove of delicacies.

As you wait in line you are immediately enticed by an ice cream vending machine, potted soup, mac and cheese varieties, freezers stocked with bottled drinks, containers of low-fat yogurt, salads, and sandwiches. Did you know you can buy pancakes and oatmeal throughout the day, an exclusive luxury of Au Bon Pain? That only recently became a thing!

Au Bon Pain’s menu has something on it for everyone, including vegetarian, vegan, and kosher options. It also takes on the task of reproducing a laundry list of classic Starbucks drinks with ingredients directly from Starbucks itself. While the made-to-order sandwiches and wraps are pricey, I think we’re definitely getting the bang for our buck. 

It is usually packed with customers, mostly students who are enjoying their food, chatting with their friends, and trying to get work done. Therefore, the line can get very long and it is rare to find an empty table. The café is usually bustling and buzzing from loud chit-chatter, so some students may find it difficult to stay focused on their work in this type of environment.

“Just eating lunch with friends there is always really nice!” Emily Ursa said. “My favorite thing in general is the workers. The lady at the register is always really nice.”

Here is my own mini-dilemma: between the tall metal racks stacked with packaged pastries; the chocolate, candy, and gum packets at the ordering station; and the cashier lady who habitually calls me “long hair girl,” I really don’t know what gives my sweet tooth a bigger toothache — but I know it all keeps me coming back to the science café.

There’s no other food spot on campus that replicates the warm and friendly atmosphere cultivated by the cashiers and cooks at Au Bon Pain. The usual two female cashiers always ask me how my classes are going and try to cheer me up whenever I’m feeling stressed about my workload. One time this semester I was short a couple of dollars, and the cashier lady graciously accepted my cash and let me complete my payment the next day. 

The cooks like to horse around with each other, the cashiers, and the customers. One of them, a tall lady who usually makes my drinks, gently chastises me when I space out and fail to hear her call out my order a third time (which is a regular occurrence) and when I have to ask where the straws are located because I keep forgetting they are directly to my right (also a regular occurrence). I have yet to encounter this level of hospitality and comradery elsewhere on campus.

Most significantly to me, Au Bon Pain provides a sense of comfort away from the academic scene, from escaping in the middle of my borderline failed environmental science lab last semester to stress eating a bowl of chicken noodle soup in under five minutes to receiving free large cups to make English breakfast tea with my partner in between a nighttime study session during the first week of school. 

Au Bon Pain has fulfilled me when I was at my highest and lowest points this past year and one quarter. No matter what my college journey entails, I know that getting my food here will continue to be a homecoming at any time of day.

Au Bon Pain is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm located on the second floor of the Science Building.

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