In the latest edition of Bwog’s profiles of Columbia’s unsung heroes, B&W/Bwog contributor and professional Butler denizen Brian Donahoe sat down and got to know Raj Ramachandran, the altruistic man of Butler Café.
It was a rainy mid-July afternoon when I first met Raj Ramachandran. My roommate had just met someone on the internet and invited her to move in; I was switching rooms. I was pushing an overstuffed blue bin down 114th when, out of nowhere, Raj, still in his Butler Café uniform, tapped me on the shoulder and took charge. Just off work and with his wife waiting in the car, Raj got my boxes up the Broadway/Hogan front entry steps in five minutes, then shook my hand and left.
When’s he’s not saving the day, Raj mans Butler Café. He’s been working in Columbia Housing & Dining now for 6 years, originally in the School of Social Works before switching to Butler full-time. Over the years he’s reached the conclusion that “99.999% of the time, Columbia students are the best.” Raj does, however, find it amusing when “kids paying $50,000 for school argue over the price of muffins.”
If you’ve paid $0.75 for a cup of hot water (can you believe it?!) as often as I have, you may have noticed that Raj, originally from southern India, is fluent in Spanish, which he learned from his wife. Raj earned his U.S. citizenship last year and says, “America is the best place.” He would characterize his personal philosophy simply as The American Dream, to “keep going up and up.” Along these lines, Raj says he plans to soon buy a Mercedes.
Besides driving fast cars, Raj likes to fill his free time with trips to Dodge, where he burns off chocolate chip brownies, his Butler Café favorite. And Raj’s best Butler Celebrity sighting? Move over James Franco: Raj remembers when Julia Stiles, immortalized in 10 Things I Hate About You, still came around looking for her cup of fair-trade.