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Saxbys, where a convenient study snack doubles as a delectable meal

The newly-opened café is on its way to becoming a U.Va. classic

<p>Staffed by ambitious students, Saxbys will no doubt soon become a staple at the University.</p>

Staffed by ambitious students, Saxbys will no doubt soon become a staple at the University.


Hunger and studying truly do go together, which is why the newly opened Saxbys in Alderman Library has already become a favorite among students. The cafe is committed to its values as a café “crafted for students, by students,” offering versatile menu options that satisfy study break needs. My friend and I decided to check out the café on a study break last week, and we spent a little under $23 for two meals. Though there were hits and misses among the items I tried, I would recommend Saxbys to satiate homework hunger or to visit with friends. 

Located on the second floor of Alderman, Saxbys opened Feb. 6. The café is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For payment, Saxbys accepts credit cards at both the kiosk and the main counter. Students may also use Flex Dollars to pay in person or through the Grubhub app. 

In contrast to other dining locations on Grounds, Saxbys’ staff consists solely of students, a decision made by the café’s founder Nick Bayer. When he created the franchise in 2005, Bayer sought to provide not only a café but an opportunity for students to earn entrepreneurship experience and academic credit. My friends and I found the student-run environment energizing, as we were greeted by peers and could interact with fellow classmates. 

Spacious tables and counters make the café an ideal place for eating, studying and catching up with friends. Wide windows fill the café with natural light, encouraging students to take full advantage of Charlottesville’s sunny days. The café also provides seating on an outdoor patio, which is located right outside the café. As we waited for our meal, my friend and I admired the chic decor and yellow and white color scheme — elements that gave the café an upbeat and classy energy.

The menu ranges from sweet goods such as a French toast muffin, to some savory classics like a breakfast burrito. Saxbys also offers “Grab and Go” sections of the menu, featuring drinks and pre-packaged snacks that are served faster than the normal wait time. Both the “Grab and Go” and non-expedited sections of the menu are offered throughout the café’s operating hours.

When we approached the counter, the student crew appeared slightly overwhelmed, but they still made time to advise us on what to order. Accepting one worker’s recommendation, I opted for the pickle grilled cheese. The pickles did not hide, to say the least. Despite the flavorful wheatberry bread and oozing, garlic herb cheese, I could not savor the sandwich for long, as the potent dill pickle taste cropped up in every bite. While I am sure many college students enjoy pickles in their sandwiches, I found the vinegar flavor overwhelming.

Despite my personal aversion to the pickle grilled cheese, Saxbys has many other grilled cheese variations I’d like to try, from one with steak to one with greens. The café aims to uniquely transform the classic sandwich into a meal with these add-ons.

While the pickles were overpowering, the vanilla cold brew I ordered neutralized the sandwich. The cold brew was made perfectly — not too bitter and not too sweet — complete with vanilla bean syrup. The small size cup felt like a decent amount of coffee given its price of $4.75. While I did not try other drinks, I enjoyed how a few of them gave nods to Saxbys’ locations in other colleges. For example, the kettle corn cold brew represents Purdue University, while the peach rush energy drink is for Georgia State University. The University does not have its own drink yet — only the Virginia Ham Grilled Cheese — but I look forward to seeing a Virginia-themed drink join the menu soon. 

The Saxbys menu also accommodates various dietary needs. My friend decided on the breakfast sandwich, which was made with a plant-based egg option called JUST Egg. As a vegan, she explained to me how rare it is for a café to provide egg substitutes. Both of us agreed that the café truly does stick to its proclaimed values of caring for all students. 

In addition to the sandwich, my friend ordered the banana and strawberry smoothie, which was a cute rosy pink color. I was able to snag a sip, and I can attest that it was as good as it looked. The refreshing and naturally sweet flavors of both fruits were easy to taste and blended seamlessly in my mouth. I highly recommend the smoothie if you need a mood boost — the sweet drink will fill your stomach and prepare you for a long night of academic grinding. 

Featuring both classics and eccentric specialties, the café meets the needs of students on a college budget. Its location in Alderman Library allows students to pick up a satisfying meal while navigating busy schedules. My friend and I agreed that we would both return to the lively café soon. I strongly recommend this dining option for anyone who has not visited already. Staffed by ambitious students, Saxbys will no doubt soon become a staple at the University. 


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