By Kaitlin Mayhew
For years, 409 William Street was a quiet place. The home of a moderately priced antique store, it was not so different from those that line the streets of Downtown Fredericksburg. After it went out of business, the chipped paint and gutted inside made the address all the more deserted.
On May 1, 2009 all of that changed. With the opening of University Café, 409 William Street bustled from that Friday on.
This new eatery, bar, and coffeehouse boasts a vintage, funky atmosphere that makes one feel almost as if they were in a far more urban setting than Downtown Fredericksburg. Such a feel is warranted since the University Café is modeled after the popular Tryst Coffeehouse and Bar in Adam’s Morgan, Washington D.C. whose own mantra is “No corporate coffee. No matching silverware.”
University Café upholds its own laidback, trendy ideals with its casually dressed wait staff serving up espresso coffee, cocktails, and draft beers. The menu is no less eclectic, offering everything from pancakes and omelets that are served all day, to macaroni and cheese, to tofu steak and Japanese udon noodles.
All of the food is prepared fresh in the open kitchen located in the back left corner of the restaurant where anyone who chooses can watch their entrée being prepared. The prices are very college-kid and economic crisis-friendly ranging from around $3.50 to $10.50; A couple could easily eat a full meal with drinks included for $20.
The salads are one of the highlight offerings, which come in large bowls with a side of flat bread and heaping with your choices from 37 different toppings ranging from pulled pork to Manchego cheese and your choice of lettuces and dressing. If you’re in the mood for something a little less healthy, customers can choose one of six pizzas ranging from vegetarian to “Meaty,” or create their own from the 24 topping offerings.
The high 11-stool bar lines the right wall, and offers a variety of draft beers, a selection of Barefoot wine and a full liquor bar.
The café offers free wireless internet and three flat screen TV’s, that can be enjoyed on a varied set of furniture ranging from colorful couches, to plush armchairs, to long wooden tables.
The managers at University Café are very open to supporting the art scene in town. A gigantic mural graces one of the walls, and the rest are full of ever-changing works from local artists. They have also hosted various art shows over the summer.
The music in the cafe comes usually from an iPod, although they do sometimes hire live bands or DJ’s to set the mood. They also host open popular mic nights where anyone from the community can come show off their musical talents.
University Café is likely to become an institution in Fredericksburg. Although it is obviously geared towards college students, walking through the doors reveals people of all ages enjoying the good coffee, eclectic, inexpensive menu, and drinks in groups, with laptops, or just at the bar.