By Sam King
Paradox Cafe, Reed’s student-run coffee shop, reopened its doors on Monday, October 9.
The two Paradox Cafes were scheduled to resume operations after summer break, but instead remained closed for the first seven weeks of the fall semester. The first signs of life could be seen in late September, when students observed that the interior lights had been turned on. On October 9, Student Body President Safi Zenger announced the planned reopening via email, though students had already been inside up to five days prior, when the cafe hosted an open mic night for Reed’s many, many young poets.
Paradox consists of the Olde Shoppe, inside the Student Union, and the Nu Shoppe, near the biology building. The Nu Shoppe is also sometimes called, “Paradox Lost,” an allusion to the title of John Milton’s 1667 poem, Paradise Lost.
On the morning of the reopening, it seemed Paradox had lost none of its charm: The walls were decorated with a number of Paradox-themed T-shirts, and photos of former students, some of whom appeared to be mooning the camera. A horde of under-caffeinated, zombie-like Reedies swarmed Paradox’s baristas just minutes after opening. When questioned by a reporter about his matcha latte, one student shrugged and confirmed it was, “pretty good.”
Paradox’s closure was caused by prolonged discussions between management and the administration over the cafe’s finances. In the past, the Business Office has backfilled Paradox’s debt – which means student-workers were able to be paid when lack of capital meant they otherwise wouldn’t – and, at least at one point, gave Paradox a $1,500 monthly stipend. Recently, however, the cafe has suffered a long stretch of difficult circumstances, including equipment failure, flooding, a catastrophic mold infestation, a rivalry with Canyon Cafe across campus, and the coronavirus pandemic. The cafe at one point carried an accumulated debt of over $15,000, which prompted the administration to take a hard look at the cafe’s sustainability. It isn’t clear whether the reopening represents a permanent end to these troubles, or just a temporary abatement.
But – at least for now – Paradox is back.