Hannah, Alexa and Joe: Stay Golden review
Alexa Bussmann, Content Development Director
November 27, 2018
Stay Golden was unlike any coffee shop that we’ve ever been to for several reasons—its set up, payment system and menu offerings, just to name a few.
Located in Berry Hill, Stay Golden feels like it’s far from campus even though it’s just a ten minute drive away. On a particularly cold day, we were welcomed by its warm lighting and gold decor. The predominantly white interior with gold details gave it an aesthetic similar to Caviar and Bananas in Midtown.
When we walked in, a hostess asked us if we wanted to order to-go or to be seated. This was unexpected— who has ever been seated at a coffee shop? In retrospect, I think I prefer having to stand awkwardly by the door and frantically search for an open seat. Being seated by a hostess felt like a huge commitment, one you don’t typically have to make at a coffee shop.
We decided that we had enough time and asked to be seated. Our waitress was super friendly and conversational, which I appreciated, although I was very thrown off that we had a waitress at all.
Stay Golden has a steep learning curve. Our waitress had to explain their diverse menu options, including espresso drinks, breakfast items, snack food and alcoholic beverages to us. She then brought us an iPad, where we would place our order and pay by swiping a card. There’s a small shelf under each table to store the iPad while the customer isn’t using it. Technological problems that week meant another minute of explanation about what we should do if we had problems ordering.
While this felt like a lot to learn simply to order a latte, I could see how the system could become comfortable for a regular at Stay Golden. You avoid waiting in a line, but still interact with a person during your experience. Despite the initial learning curve, this system has the potential to be more efficient than the traditional coffee shop experience. However, older customers might struggle with the technology–even I struggled to split our check with the iPad.
I was pretty hungry when we got to Stay Golden, so I knew I needed a snack with my coffee. I decided to get an Americano and the cinnamon bun for $3 each. Although I usually wouldn’t order something like that in the afternoon, it sounded good and I was pleasantly surprised with both the coffee and the food. The Americano was fairly strong, but it cut through the sweetness of the cinnamon bun, which wasn’t overly sugary and was a nice size for a snack. I would’ve appreciated more options for coffee sizes, but unfortunately they only offered a 12 ounce coffee. Overall I really enjoyed what I ordered and am curious about their other offerings.
Score: 4 out of 5 cups
When it came time to order, I definitely felt like ordering an espresso drink wouldn’t be sufficient, because being seated made the entire experience feel less casual. I ordered the chips and salsa for $3 as a snack to accompany my $5 latte. Due to the aforementioned technology problems, our waitress took our orders for us on the iPad. I was very surprised to learn that they didn’t offer vanilla syrup for espresso drinks. The waitress offered their demerara syrup as a substitute, and although I had my doubts, it honestly tasted very similar to a vanilla latte. My chips and salsa were really tasty, and the green salsa had a strong but not overpowering kick to it.
Score: 4 out of 5 cups
Once we got used to the unorthodox customer experience at Stay Golden, we started to sit back and enjoy the space. High ceilings make it feel large , and there’s a second floor of seating above the kitchen. On this Thursday afternoon there were only two pairs of customers there besides us. And our waitress was the friendliest waitress I have ever encountered—she genuinely seemed like she loved her job and wanted to be there.
I brought my backpack with me to hopefully do work for an hour, but I definitely would have felt strange pulling out my computer at Stay Golden. While a book or notebook might have been appropriate, using a laptop at Stay Golden would feel about as comfortable as whipping out a TI-84 and a calculus textbook at SATCO. The distinctly conversational, restaurant-like atmosphere made the idea of doing homework seem anti-social. Not to mention it would be extremely uncomfortable to go to Stay Golden alone.
Stay Golden is building its “Roasting and Education Lab” at the back of their space– literally, they were hanging a TV on the wall while we were there. The lab only adds to the novelty, and you can be sure that we’ll be back to check this out once it opens. For the time being, the construction of the Roasting and Education Lab affirms my belief that Stay Golden is indeed a coffee shop and not a restaurant.
Stay Golden may not be your brand-new favorite study spot, or Ponyboy’s latest hangout, but it sure is something. The jury is still out on whether or not this hybrid of a coffee shop and restaurant represents the future for coffee shops, but after an hour at Stay Golden, the only thing I was disappointed by was the lack of The Outsiders references.
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