By Harry Minium

College students have had an affinity for coffee shops at least since the beat generation of the 1950s, when many who rejected conventional society often read poetry or listened to music over a hot cup of java.

The attraction in modern times is often more practical - free WiFi, comfortable seating and the aroma of coffee can make for a nicer place to crack your book open than going to the library.

That was one of the attractions to Borjo Coffeehouse, located at Monarch Way and 45th Street, which closed in December after 15 years. Since then, the University Village has been without a dedicated coffee venue for students and faculty to slake their thirst for lattes, cappuccinos and espressos.

That will soon change, as two coffee shops that appeal to very different customer bases will open.

In late March or early April, the vacant Borjo will become the second location for Equinox Coffee Co., an eclectic and earthy shop that opened in 2019 at 2800 Colley Ave. in Park Place.

Equinox is a place that the beat generation would have loved, focused on sustainable, one-sourced coffee purchased from farmers in Ethiopia and Central and South America.

In late fall, Starbucks will open another shop on campus, this one on the south side of the Constant Center.

The outdoor entrance to Starbucks will be located on 43rd Street across the street from a parking garage and the Barry Art Museum.

It will not only offer coffee and snacks for those headed to class, but also to those watching concerts or basketball games at Chartway Arena.

Fans or concert-goers will be able to order drinks or food via the Grub Hub app on their cell phones. The store will also have an interior entrance into Chartway Arena, allowing fans to walk up.

Janet McLaughlin, who heads the Aramark Dining Service on campus, said the coffee shops will appeal to different groups.

"I think what you'll see is that the people who went to Borjo will go to Equinox," she said. "Faculty and staff, folks from development, people on their way to work, will go there. So will people who want to have a casual conversation.

"People coming out of the parking garage and students walking to class will stop at the Starbucks because it's so convenient."

More options are also coming for ODU students and faculty.

On March 2, the new Qdoba Mexican Eats and Steak 'n Shake restaurants will open inside Webb Center. On March 16, Ms. Ruby's Café and a larger Chick-fil-A will open there as well.

The Pizza Hut outlet in Webb Center will move to the old Chick-fil-A location and will be replaced by an Einstein Brothers Bagel Shop.

Aramark is also offering delivery through Grub Hub from any of its Webb Center restaurants within a 2-mile radius of campus, which extends into Larchmont, Lamberts Point, Colonial Place and parts of Park Place, Ghent and West Ghent.

Food can be ordered using the Grub Hub App (cost is $2.99 per delivery), and students can use their Monarch Plus dining dollars.

Equinox is moving into a space managed by the ODU Real Estate Foundation. Tara F. Saunders, the foundation's executive director, said that officials looked for an independent, locally owned coffee shop.

"Equinox will be a cultural, sustainable and welcome spot on ODU's campus and plans to have events that will appeal to both students and the surrounding community," she said.

Equinox was founded by Virginia Beach native Ty Harrell, who learned the trade working for Ozo Coffee Roasters in Boulder, Colo. Since opening the first Equinox a year ago, he has purchased all of his coffee from Ozo, which purchases coffee beans directly from farmers.

Opening in the old Borjo location will give Equinox more space. The location in Park Place has a wide variety of coffee, but serves mostly pastries, including vegan pop tarts.

"It has more kitchen space and will allow us to expand our offerings," he said.

The Equinox location in Park Place has paintings by local artists on its walls, which are all for sale. The ODU location will also have local art for sale, including works from Monarch students.

"We provide opportunities for people like artists to get some exposure," Harrell said.

"Knowing that this location is right next to ODU's art department, we hope and plan to develop a close relationship there."

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