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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Business brews new ideas on campus

“It’s one of the only spots on campus that isn’t University owned. It’s a nook,” Shaw said. |  Courtesy of Derek Shaw

“It’s one of the only spots on campus that isn’t University owned. It’s a nook,” Shaw said. | Courtesy of Derek Shaw

The University Starbucks locations and Einstein Bagels will have to find innovative ways to draw in students with the summer opening of a new campus coffee shop.

The Nook Cafe, owned by alumnus Derek Shaw and Sam Wijnberg, will open on July 15 in the new center being built next to Chinese Star. Of its many features, the cafe hours will rank highly among students. The Nook will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 7 to 1 a.m. Saturday’s and 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday.

Biochemistry junior Katherine Buitrago was unaware of the new cafe but said she is excited about its hours.

“I think the hours are huge on that. I remember we were studying for our organic test (my friends and I) and everyone after that needed caffeine for their exam, and Starbucks was closed. So they were kind of inconvenienced,” Buitrago said. “Either that or they had to get an energy drink out of a machine or from the C-Store. So yeah, that’s awesome.”

Shaw and Wijnberg, who have been friends for 15 years, always wanted to work on a project together and now have the opportunity to do so. Alumnus Ian Rosenberg of Infill Designs is also working with the duo to design the interior of the cafe.

The Nook will proudly brew Cougar Blend coffee, which is sold in Houston HEBs and owned by Shaw and Wijnberg. UH alumnus Avi Katz who graduated with a degree in hotel and restaurant management owns Katz’s Coffee and roasts Cougar Blend coffees and espressos at his roasting plant located off of South Shepherd Drive, something Shaw said he is proud of.

“Our beans are roasted 15 minutes away and delivered weekly. It’s hands downs the best pot of coffee you’ll get on campus,” Shaw said. “They’re really isn’t a place on campus where you can get a glass of wine, and our selections will be red and white. Everything there (at The Nook) is going to be local. We will also have Houston-Press-award-winning pastries and cake from a couple of local vendors.”

For a fresh atmosphere, Shaw and Wijnberg hope UH students will make The Nook their home by putting their art canvases on its walls and using their stage for acting, music and poetry open mic nights.

“The place is really for the students, whatever they want from us we’ll try and accommodate,” Shaw said.

Shaw said he would stand in line at the Starbucks in the C.T. Bauer College of Business when he was getting his MBA and he would think to himself, “Why couldn’t I have just called in and had my order waiting on me.” It is because of this thought that The Nook will also be known for its relationship with technology.

“The unique piece of The Nook that we’re actually proud of is a smart phone app where you can actually order your coffee the way you like it. You tell us when you’ll show up, you pay with your credit card and come to the pick-up counter and pick it up,” Shaw said. “It’ll be sitting there waiting for you. We’re hoping that will draw a lot of students. Anything on the menu, except for alcohol, can be ordered on the phone app, The Nook.”

The grand opening is in July, but there will also be a celebration in the fall to welcome back UH students.

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