I think as college students, we are constantly on the lookout for new coffee shops. It’s like we get our acceptance letters and our DNA is subsequently rewritten on the spot. Well, I’ve found the place that my soul has been yearning for, and her name is the Petite Rouge Cafe, located at 3146 Calhoun Street.
To clear up any confusion, when you look up Petite Rouge, you might notice that they are also known for having a mobile coffee truck that travels around the city to bring coffee to the masses, but today we’ll be focusing on their brick and mortar location. Their mobile coffee truck could be an entire article within itself, honestly, and if you ask nicely, perhaps I will provide. Nevertheless, I will provide a look at the cafe itself free of charge. Their physical location is located only a 10 minute walk from the center of campus (and it’s even closer if you frequent Yulman Stadium) just across S. Claiborne Ave.
Situated between Moe’s BBQ and the ever aesthetic Frostop stands The Petite Rouge Cafe, a wonderful place to study or simply grab an afternoon treat. Their red detailing and truck themed decorations make the cafe not only recognizable, but also extremely cute.
Started by Julie Anne Pieri and Kurt Schmiederer, Petite Rouge feels less like a business and more like a community gathering space. You are greeted by the barista every time you come in, and customers are often known by name, which helps to cultivate a friendly atmosphere day in and day out. Pieri is often at the cafe, mingling (safely) with the customers. She asks me to remind her who the man is on my laptop (my Harry Styles sticker) and she enjoys the answer every time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in a bad mood, and her peppy disposition certainly rubs off on everyone she speaks to, including my surly and perpetually annoyed self. I can’t help but enjoy my time there.
Their menu is a spectacle within itself, as the cafe proudly supports local products, which includes everything from bagels to donuts. All of their syrups are homemade, which is impressive when you consider that they have so many unique flavors such as the classic Vanilla Bean or the more obscure Basil. They make sandwiches right there in front of you and carry an assortment of locally sourced pastries that are on display for you to parooze at your convenience. My personal order always consists of their 16oz cold brew (delicious) and a chocolate donut (nutritious), but they have a myriad of different combinations to choose from. I’d like to go on the record and state that I have not once been disappointed with my order. It’s just that good.
Now, I would be doing the cafe a disservice if I didn’t mention the overall ambiance. In short: wonderful. Their playlists change daily, but they always seem to be exactly what I need at that moment. They often have a puzzle set up on the table closest to the door for customers to put together, which has manifested most recently in a Golden Girls puzzle that has just been completed in the last week. One can only imagine what the next puzzle might be. In terms of seating, even while being appropriately socially distanced, the cafe has more than enough space to accommodate you both inside and outside. Masks are required inside and the staff take the safety precautions seriously, as there is also a plexi-glass shield that stands between you and the barista as you order. Overall, Petite Rouge is the perfect COVID-safe study space.
In a time where it’s hard to find a reason to get out of bed in the morning, the Petite Rouge Cafe gives us a place to go and find a little happiness, even if it’s in the form of a 16oz cold brew, or a chocolate donut. Thank goodness for Petite Rouge Cafe.
Cover Photo: Mercedes Ohlen