A Review

Zoe’s Bookside Bagels: Locally made bagels and coffee from Bellingham

Zoe’s Bookside Bagels is a small kiosk-like area in the Wilson Library at Western Washington University. It’s located near the Daylight Lounge and the Tutoring Center, commonly known around campus as “Zoe’s.” (Though no one campus can come to clear consensus on whether it’s pronounced [z-oh’s] or [zo-ees].) It’s great place on Western’s campus to eat locally made bagels and coffee.

In 2010, there was a competition to come up with a name for Zoe’s, and the winner got $500 in Munch Money. The name Zoe comes from Mabel Zoe Wilson, a former librarian at Western who the Wilson Library is also named after. Some people on campus claim she still haunts the Microform Collection in the West Wing of the second floor inside Wilson Library.

Zoe’s has amazing bagels that are made locally in Bellingham at a shop called “The Bagelry.” They also get their coffee locally from Tony’s. So, while you could go to Starbucks for your fix of caffeine, you can feel good about going to Zoe’s and supporting the community of Bellingham.

If you’ve ever tried to go to “The Bagelry” in downtown Bellingham, you know that it closes at 4 PM every day. If you can’t find the time in your day to get down there while they’re open, Zoe’s is the next best alternative. They stay open nice and late on most days — usually until 11 PM.

The problem you might face going to Zoe’s, if you’re not a student at Western, is finding a way to get there. If you luck out and find free street parking somewhere, you’re facing a ten to fifteen-minute walk. If you wait until after 4 or come on the weekend, you can park in C lot — which is still a pretty long walk across campus to the library. Though you still might face that problem when you’re downtown.

Despite the never ending lines that happen between 7 am and 5 pm, it’s always worth it once you take a bite of a toasted bagel and take a sip of steaming hot coffee on a cold, rainy day.

There are doors specifically labeled with “IN” and “OUT” so you don’t have to awkwardly run into people as you’re entering or exiting the room. Most people seem to enjoy taking their chances, though, because on several occasions, one time or another, you will run into someone.

Right when you walk in you’re met with the wonderful smell of fresh bagels. There are tables that take up almost half the room, huge glass stained windows and individual seating around the perimeter of the room with small desks attached to them — perfect for individual work.

There’s a small section along the wall dedicated to a Bookswap for the on campus community to read and recommend new books. A little down from that is a shelf full of different types of board games that you can play with your friends such as; Chinese Checkers and Blurt!

If you want to get food or coffee, you stand in the line forming on the far right. If it’s especially long, you have time to consider what you want to get. There’s a little desk with paper and pencils sitting next to the menu for you to fill out before you get to the counter. It might be a little hectic for people who have never been there before and have no idea what kinds of things are on the menu.

There’s always that awkward moment when you stop to fill out your slip and the line begins to move. You’re not ready to move forward, but it looks like the people behind you are getting impatient and want to move ahead of you. Don’t worry. All you have to do is bring the pencil with you and drop it off at the counter, or bring your own pen out and fill it out while you wait.

Once you hand the slip to the cashier and pay for the rest of your things, there’s a queue directly to the side. Usually there are about a hundred people standing there, not including the ones walking through the door. It can get a little crowded and hectic, so try to stay calm and move to the back of the queue so the people who have been there longer can get to their food as soon as it’s set on the counter.

If you order a bagel, it’s best to find a table while you wait since it usually takes a few minutes to get to you. You just have to be careful, because sometimes it’s hard to hear when the employees call your name.

If you filled out a slip of paper, it will be waiting for you under your bagel (or whatever else you ordered). It has your name on it, so there’s no chance of getting it mixed up and accidently taking the wrong one.

There’s a convenient little recycling bin right to the left of the pickup counter for you to put your slip of paper in once you pick up your food. Just let it slide right in there and you never have to worry about it again.

If you’re going to Zoe’s to study, it’s relatively hard to find an open table to work at. Right when you start to clear up your stuff, a group of people will swarm around you to try and get your table. It’s like front parking at a grocery store.

If you can manage to get a spot, you might want to stay there as long as you can, because once you leave, the seat is gone for good.

However, if you’re someone who likes eating later in the night, the best time to go to Zoe’s is around 8. The dinner rush has likely died down by then, and most of the people there are either almost done studying, or chatting with their friends.

The downside of trying to go to Zoe’s during their rush hours is that it’s so packed full of people, it’s sometimes impossible to hear your friends, much less keep your thoughts in order while you’re studying. Only the power of headphones can cut through the noise.

The only thing that Zoe’s is missing that other coffee shops typically would have is music playing in the background. It’s not like you’d be able to hear it, though.

Zoe’s is the amazing coffee shop that supports local business’ and keeps the Bellingham community thriving. It’s got WiFi, outlets all along the room, perfect lighting and plenty of coffee to keep you caffeinated on even your worst days. When you get there and order your food, you can decide for yourself if the seventeen-minute wait for your bagel was worth it.