Don Your Horn-Rimmed Glasses and Get to Know Steve, The Owner and Manager of Brownie’s Cafe

Written by

averyIn the latest edition of Bwog’s profiles of the friendly faces around campus, Claire Sabel, Guide to the Weekend Editor and Stuffed Sandwich enthusiast, journeys into the bowels of Avery to chat with Steve of Brownie’s Cafe

For a break from the standard Butler fare, many students venture underground to Brownie’s, the cafe below Avery Hall which caters to sleep-deprived Architecture students.  Brownie’s is owned and run by Steve, not Columbia Dining Services, which accounts for its superior coffee and affordable bagels.

“I love, love the students,” Steve enthused. ‘There’s a very positive, upbeat energy, and I try to convey that to my staff too.” Before Brownie’s moved to Avery three years ago, Steve worked as a caterer, and his business now also functions as a catering service to the University and beyond. He describes it as a “fun, unique extension of the school. Conversation begins in the class-room and continues in the cafe.”  He appreciates the diversity of student body, particularly the international students that the School of Architecture attracts.  Accordingly, the Brownie’s menu caters to a variety of tastes.

Not only does the menu reflect variation, but the environment itself constantly evolves. The installations in the café space frequently change, reflecting the output of the numerous conferences and programs that Avery hosts.  ‘Public Housing: A New Conversation’ currently graces the walls.  Thought-provoking and slickly presented, several installations have completely taken over two of the cafe’s main walls.  Just as Low Library and Butler reflect the aims of the Core Curriculum, so does the cafe’s design facilitate study in design, architecture or urban studies.

Steve shares many interests with the students he serves.  Brownie’s catering clients are mostly architects, and their houses make interesting places to work. Steve describes the minimalist atmospheres of their houses as “spaces which are blank canvases,” an aesthetic he often contemplates.

Steve is from New York, and grew up in New Jersey — he even once thought about transferring to Columbia. But settling in to life at Columbia was tricky. “It’s an art to learn when to be ready,” he explained.  “We don’t have a class schedule, so we had to really get a feel for when classes will end, for the ebb and flow of the traffic.” But rest assured, Steve runs a smooth operation, and loves what he does: “I strongly believe in serving people, and doing it nicely.”

Tags: , , , ,


  1. brownie's cafe  

    is awesome. went there every mon/wed last year

  2. Love him  

    He would always let me get away with it when I was a quarter... or a dollar... short for my M/W coffee.

  3. Harmony Hunter

    bwog, pls do one of these on harmony the building

    • Harmony Hunter Hunter  

      thats it HH its fucking open season on your bitch ass!

      no more stupid posts, unfunny anecdotes, or dumbass comments.

      I'ma find you, skin you, then hang you on my facebook wall.

  4. weee  

    i love brownies. best coffee on campus.

    p.s. stay away, hordes.

  5. hot dog hunter  

    What about the iconic hot dog generating machine in the Tastee (spelling?) shrine in Lerner? No word on it for age! Has it been allowed to die a quiet death or is the second coming in sight?

  6. wat

    I think Harmony is on 110th street.

    It's really far away from campus and some of the rooms are reaaallly small.

  7. fan

    Brownie's cafe is indeed very good. Both in quality and price, as well as service, it easily surpasses any of the campus cafes run by dining services, and is as such a shining example of the superiority of private enterprise over centralized, monopolistic bureaucracy. On the downside, I'm not certain that placing a dining establishment in a basement is such a great idea from the perspective of sanitary standards. Then again, they didn't have a luxury of options available.

  8. f*kit  

    thank you very fucking much bwog. i'm sitting at my regular place at brownie's trying to work with another student while a trio of 18 year old bellowing children trade lap dances and generally turn brownie's into a goddamned zoo.

  9. archstudent  

    Who exactly is Steve? The manager of Brownies who is ALWAYS there and is SUPER nice is Patrick. Steve may be the owner but it is Patrick who deserves all the credit. But yea, please stay away because as one of those sleep deprived architecture students I don't have time to leave my building or wait in line behind a huge crowd of buisness school students.

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.