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Dear Columbia: Why Donut You Get A Dunkin’ To Open Even Closer To Campus?

Senior staff writer Jake Tibbetts loves New York, but his heart will always belong to Boston. He frequently struggles with homesickness, but he knows of a kind of treatment that never fails. Here, he pleads the Columbia administration to help bring a staple of his home community to campus. Like, actually to campus this time.

Not more than a half mile away.

I’m a Boston boy at heart. Both of my grandmothers were raised in working-class Irish-American families who had settled in or around the city. My paternal grandfather’s side of the family has been in New England since the early seventeenth century. When my mother was pregnant with me, she spent most of her time on bed rest in my grandparents’ home in Cambridge. Before coming to Columbia, I attended a Catholic high school just a couple of exits south of the Rainbow Swash. Though I have come to consider New York a second home, the city that raised me still occupies a special place in my heart.

I’m not even asking Columbia to build a new stand-alone Dunks! Just open one in an empty storefront on Broadway! Please!

Living in New York, the city that Boston likes to pretend is considers its rival, has caused me much turmoil and angst. I have fallen for New York, yes, but I constantly worry that the more time I spend here, the more I grow distant from my beloved Hub. Have my constant trips to Molly’s in Gramercy for pub food made me appreciate Doyle’s (RIP to a real one) less? Do I care a little bit less about the Sox than I used to (pretend to)? Do I have a harder time navigating the T when I go home as I get more and more comfortable finding my way around the MTA? Do I now enjoy Gangs of New York more than The Departed? (Absolutely not. Gangs is arguably Scorsese’s worst film in over twenty years. But you get my point.) Am I no longer really a Bostonian?

Luckily, there’s an antidote to this constant threat of losing touch with home: a coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts (which is now officially called “Dunkin’,” and which I, and most other Bay Staters, have always known simply as “Dunks”) with as much cream and sugar as possible. Dunks, which was founded in Quincy and is headquartered in Canton, is a Massachusetts staple. There are over 1,000 locations in Massachusetts alone. I have vivid memories from when I was a child of driving up to my grandparents’ home on the North Shore and passing a spot on Route 1A where two Dunkses were located right across the street from one another. There was a Dunks right behind my middle school, a Dunks right next door to my gym, a Dunks right across the street from the library where I used to work, and a Dunks at the end of the bridge that I crossed every single day to get to my high school. There were Dunkses everywhere, as ubiquitous in Massachusetts as Duane Reades or bodegas or subway rats or crushed dreams are in New York. And no matter where I am, drinking a Dunks coffee transports me back home and makes me feel a little less isolated in this alienating city.

When I found out that a Dunks would be coming to campus this year, I was ecstatic. Instead of having to start my day at Starbucks—or even worse, Pret—I could skip down to Dunks, grab a hot drink and an order of hash browns, and start my day with a full stomach and a happy heart. I could wake up feeling a little less lonely and a little more connected to home, and get a delicious-albeit-slightly-watered-down beverage in the process. It felt like a dream come true.

Soon after it popped up in the space that used to house Panini D’Parma, though, I realized that some things are simply too good to be true.

When I’m walking on Amsterdam, I rarely go north of 116th Street. I have never really had any reason to. Because of my lack of experience walking on the east side of the neighborhood, I assumed that walking from my dorm on 113th and Broadway to the new Dunks at 121st-ish and Amsterdam would take five minutes—maybe six minutes tops.

I was mistaken.

According to Google Maps, the walk is about 12 minutes long—a 0.6 mile jaunt. This, of course, fails to take into account the fact that, when walking there, I would not have yet had my coffee. Being in a caffeine deprival-induced trance adds about 3 minutes to that estimate. When you factor in a wait time of five minutes and a return trip of equal duration, the total time calculation for a round-trip comes out to about 35 minutes. In other words, this Dunks won’t be somewhere I stop by spontaneously before going to class or heading downtown to my internship. Alas, it looks like it will have to be reserved for special occasions.

I truly thought that this new opening would bring me closer to home. But after conducting some research, I realized that nothing has changed since before this new Dunks arrived. There has long been a Dunks in Harlem, right on the other side of Morningside Park. Google says that it takes 13 minutes to walk there—and that it’s also 0.6 miles away.

Now, look. I don’t want to beg. Bostonians don’t beg. We yell and start shit for no reason. It’s a way of life. But I don’t suppose there is anything I can do except beg right now.

In a few months, an outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee will be opening in the former Housewares spot, less than half a block away from my dorm. According to an announcement on the Columbia Facilities website, Blue Bottle will offer “drinks including single origins, pour over, espresso, New Orleans Iced Coffee, Cold Brew, and Cascara Fizz,” as well as “pastries and viennoiserie from Bouchon Bakery.”

I barely know what any of the means. Frankly, I don’t care what any of it means. I don’t need anything fancy to start my day. I don’t need any of those, to quote a wise man, “vanilla bullshit latte cappa things.” Give me a coffee regular and a chocolate frosted donut from Dunks and I’m good to go. It’s cheaper, it’s more filling, and it holds sentimental value to me.

So please, Columbia. Throw that lease with Blue Bottle in the recycling bin and offer the space to a chain that is more deserving. (What, like you care about being a fair and reasonable landlord? Please.) I am not sure you realize just how difficult it can be for New Englanders (and I mean people from real New England—not you, Southwestern Connecticut) to feel at home here in the City of New York. Tomato-based clam chowder? That in itself is enough to make me feel unwelcome in Manhattan. Columbia, I’m not asking you to establish a task force to find ways to relieve this burden. There’s no need to go hunting for answers. The solution is wicked obvious. Kick the bougie chain to the curb and do what you can to put a Dunks right here on campus.

For real this time.

Give every single location a Michelin star already via Michael Rivera

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3 Comments

  • veg says:

    @veg you don’t know true desperation until you walk to the dunks on 125th with some regularity !! you sohuld also consider the 101 & bway dunks it’s a nice walk if you’re listening to a podcast and also across the street from the jessica jones apartment building

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous listen, here’s what you’re gonna want to do, pop down to your local target, get yourself a drip coffee machine and a cheap folding table, and set it up in the corner of your dorm, stick some half and half in your minifridge, and be the cool dorm kid who makes his own coffee every morning

  • break out of the bubble says:

    @break out of the bubble go to the dunkin’ on 104th and amsterdam!! also you should just take one day to walk all around the neighborhood if you never go north of amsterdam and 116th lol

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