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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Nook cafe slowly brews grand opening

For more than a month, The Nook Cafe has been actively recruiting students to work for UH’s next on-campus coffee shop.

As a result of social media and large flyers being scattered across campus, more than 170 applicants were received by The Nook’s general manager, Jacob McClain.

“In the first two weeks, we had over 100 applicants. Twenty-five percent (had a) barista (background) or had some type of coffee experience,” said owner of The Nook and UH alumnus Derek Shaw. “It was nuts. We were blown away.”

Originally scheduled to open July 15, The Nook has 15 available positions and continues to receive resumes every day. More than 90 percent of the applicants are UH-affiliated.

“No one remembers a late delivery — they only remember a bad one. (We’re) hoping to have an official opening date by the end of next week,” Shaw said. “I’ve never actually been a part of construction before. I was painfully unaware of all the different things that need to be done to build a shop.”

Shaw’s friend of 15 years, Sam Wijnberg, is also an owner. Together, they plan to hire a full staff by early next week, complete with training sessions at Katz’s Coffee.

Nutrition sophomore Alma Villatoro was unaware The Nook will be one of the stores opening in the new strip center on Calhoun Road.

“I feel that for some time UH students have been wanting something new like a cafe or restaurant added to UH’s selection,” Villatoro said. “I am actually very excited about the news and cannot wait for the grand opening of these shops.”

“I will be anxious to see the interior decor, as well as how popular it is among UH students.”

The Nook will be open from 7 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday. But its hours aren’t the only things that will be keeping students up late. It will be the only shop in Houston to own the Steampunk,a $15,000 coffee pot which will brew drinks in 60 seconds that normally take a barista five minutes.

“(Wijnberg) was a little wishy washy (about it), (but I knew) something was missing. Everybody had a slow pour bar; it’s been done,” Shaw said. “Everybody’s done the cushy chairs; we’ve got a good idea on the decor. I was looking for something to take Houston coffee shops to another level.”

Active social media followers have increased The Nook’s presence online in the past two months and enable students to get in contact with Shaw directly.

“Facebook is the easiest way to get to me. I’m using it. I personally have a lot of fun interacting with them on social media; chatting with me and giving me advice (on The Nook),” Shaw said. “(You’re) not falling on deaf ears, we’re listening.”

For Cougars who are still not sure about whether The Nook is worth their time and money, Shaw encourages them to stay posted.

“When you come into the shop and see it, if you have a good time, I’ll know you’re there because you want to be there,” Shaw said. “Come with an open mind, and then definitely let me know what (you) think. We would change in a heartbeat. It’s (your) shop, not ours.”

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