By ELIZABETH BEAUCHAMP
Blackstone Coffee; the coffee shop we all know and love here in Fredericksburg. We sip and savor the delicious coffee without much thought to the origin of it. What many do not even know, however, is that Blackstone has very local roots.
It all started when local entrepreneur, Don Merritt, owner of Blackstone Coffee Company, won a roasting competition in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“[The competition] validated my roasting skills and gave me the push that I needed to take my roasting to the next level,” Merrit said. The first Blackstone location opened in 2008 in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
In 2010, Blackstone Coffee Company opened its second location in Eagle Village, which quickly became a favorite study spot for University of Mary Washington students. Merritt said that the move to Eagle Village was a significant risk, but proved to be the right move for the company.
The Blackstone at Eagle Village celebrated its fifth birthday on Friday, Nov. 20. This marked a great milestone for Blackstone as a company. The coffee shop celebrated by awarding every 10th customer with a prize; either a free drink or free Blackstone merchandise such as t-shirts and coffee mugs with the Blackstone Coffee Company logo. The convenience of Blackstone in Eagle Village further improved with the opening of a new location on campus.
“As a freshman I would have to walk all the way to Eagle Village for a quality cup of coffee, but now I can walk right down campus walk, grab my coffee and head right next door to the Hurley Convergence Center to study,” said junior business major Tram Hoang.
In addition to the added convenience of an on-campus coffee shop, the “mini” Blackstone offers a full menu of sandwiches that allow students to take food and go.
The most popular item on the menu? The New York Bagels. The selection of bagels are some of the few items that can be purchased for a single meal swipe, a key part of its appeal as we all know.
However, much to the dismay of bagel fans, Blackstone only offered bagels until 10:30 a.m. during the week, and until 1:30 p.m. during the weekend.
But just a few weeks ago, the Student Senate passed a motion that would extend the hours they offer bagels to 12 p.m. during the week. According to Student Government Association Vice President Alex Obolensky, the Senate and Executive Cabinet passed the motion with the support of a 200 student petition.
“Once a motion like this has passed both the Senate and the Executive Cabinet, I am, as the SGA Vice-President, are responsible for communication with the administration and whatever other organizations need to be involved,” Obolensky said. The new legislation is one of several changes enacted by SGA in order to improve dining options across campus.
When asked about the changes coming to Blackstone, Madeleine Quick, junior historic preservation and art history major, raised a concern, “I understand that if you only have a certain amount of bagels, than you get there on time to get that bagel. I don’t want them to offer more bagels, but then charge us more to make up the cost.”
It is not clear what the impacts would be for Blackstone Coffee Company or the students just yet, but as the company continues to grow, so will the relationship between UMW and Blackstone.