The Graveyard Shift: Gamal at the Coffee Cart

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Our second installment of Graveyard Shift finds Diana Clarke hanging out with Gamal, late-night/early-morning coffee vendor on 114th Street. Remember: other people stay up late, too. Good luck studying.

As students stumble home from Butler in the wee hours, they’re likely to pass a man stocking his coffee cart on 114th and Broadway with fresh donuts and bagels. His name is Gamal, and he’s been parked on that corner every weekday morning for the last fourteen years. In that time Gamal, who’s from Egypt, has made “a lot of friends here,” he says, along with all the regulars he knows from his job. And it’s a crowd as international as any at Columbia: people from the Middle East, Africa, Sweden.

When asked if he sees a lot of students at his cart, Gamal just answers “Yeah,” adding “Everybody here is nice with me.” But as for his feelings about the neighborhood? “It depends on the customer, you know?” Although apparently he’s pretty well liked: “A lot of people come here and make interviews with me” he says. “Everybody’s happy” that he’s worked here a long time, and he says that their tastes are so different that everything in his cart is popular. But he’s not interested in any of it. “For me? Nothing,” he says. “Otherwise, I’d eat everything. I like everything from another cart.”

And that business model appears to be working for him. Yes, chatting with the regular customers and seeing the students is fun, but Gamal’s final word is this: “I like everybody here, you know, because I make money from them.”



  1. Hooda's  

    What happened to the OG Hooda's guy? Ya know, the "whi-sauce, hot sauce, buddy?"

    The other guys are just not the same.

  2. what a cutie!  

    love this dude :)

  3. diane clark  

    sounds like the archetypical journalist name

  4. Anonymous  

    gamal is my man. he can pour a coffee with milk and sugar in .48 seconds while wrapping your bagel with his other hand. he's always super nice, and he sets up that cart unbelievably early, like 2AM.

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