Zoe’s Bookside Bagels: A College Student’s Home Away From Home

Zoe’s Bagel’s Front Counter

When I take my first step through the “in” door of Zoe’s Bagels located inside the Wilson Library, I automatically feel welcomed. The air is warm and full of the scent of fresh bread, there is constant chatter and laughter amongst students, and the book swap and complimentary board games on the opposite wall of the entrance add a friendly aspect. One of the first things you see as you walk in are the twelve huge stained glass arched windows. These windows add natural sunlight and are able to open, making the warm room a little cooler and less stuffy. Despite the slow service here, the food and coffee is great. They serve Bellingham’s Tony’s Coffee, which I believe is the best coffee in town, and The Bagelry’s Bagels. They also have three refrigerators packed with the common bottled drinks that you can find in almost any other place that sells food on campus.

The most common person to find here is a college student. Most of the staff are college students, along with most of the customers, though anyone is welcome in Zoe’s. Being a student in this mostly student atmosphere can be very comforting. Looking around, you can see that these people are going through similar problems, in classes and in life, that you are going through.

Students study either in Zoe’s, or a more quieter place in the library, and because Zoe’s is so close, they can take a quick break to eat or grab some coffee, then quickly focus back on studying. The Wilson library is right in the center of campus, making it easily accessible to all students. Other eateries on campus, like the Underground Coffee Shop or the Atrium, can become a little out of the way if you are no where near them.

Zoe’s “table and chair seating” and stained glass windows

Aside from having the perfect location on campus, Zoe’s is the best coffee shop on campus because of the food and atmosphere. The Underground is a cozy place to grab some coffee, but their food options are very limited and surprisingly it can take even longer to get your coffee or food than Zoe’s. The Atrium on south campus has Starbucks, Subway and a pizza place, but the atmosphere there seems cold and dark because of the cement walls. The Viking Commons also has a Subway and a Panda Express, but the prices can quality of the food can sometimes be unworthy. Zoe’s serves food from local restaurants, making the products fresh and delicious. The food stands in front of the Viking Commons serve amazing food, but you need cash for most of these places, and Zoe’s takes dining and viking dollars, which come with a meal plan.

In Zoe’s there are three different types of seating: booth, arm chair with a connected desk, and the usual table and chair. The booths, located on the perimeter of the room, are usually taken, but if you’re lucky you can snag one! I usually sit in the middle at a table so that I have enough space for all my work and food. Most people come to Zoe’s to get a bite and either meet with a friend or group to either socialize or work on homework, but there are some people that come alone. It can get pretty hard studying for a test in here though, because it always tends to be loud in that room from the coffee makers, constant chatter bouncing off the walls and a never ending hum from the refrigerators. Because of this, Zoe’s it much better for collaborative work, than individual studying.

If you are coming here to get a quick bite, then you should think again. Though the bagels are amazing, with so many delicious types of schmears, it takes from five to seven minutes to get your bagel and that’s if there is no line (which is pretty rare). When the line is longest (between 11:45–2 on weekdays) it can take up to ten minutes to reach the cashier and another seven to ten for your food. Thankfully, the workers are always very nice and helpful to their customers, and they undergo proper health regulations, like wearing gloves and hair nets.

When Western student, Ellie Young, first came to Zoe’s at the beginning of the year she played it safe with original cream cheese, but eventually she

“became more adventurous and learned that their pesto schmear is to die for!”

Their egg sandwiches are also really good if you are hungry for more than just a bagel and cream cheese. They also have a variety of sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, soups, packaged salads and snacks, along with fresh pastries.

Coming to another state or even another city, it’s hard to feel at home when you first move to a new place. One thing that really helps is having a place, other than where you sleep, that you feel comfortable and at peace at. Zoe’s Bagels is just the place. Anyone can come to this welcoming place for comfort food and to meet with friends, or work on a little homework. They (almost) always get your order right, and they always take it with a smile. Here, students are surrounded by other students going through similar experiences, and it gives off a sense of peace and belonging.