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BRIEF: What’s new with the Underground Coffeehouse?

Remodel planned for the coffeehouse as the Viking Union works to create new social spaces

A collage depicting two people hanging out on a couch on top of a book. The Underground Coffeehouse provides a place for students to study or hang out with their friends. // Collage by Isabella Doughty

Since the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, the Underground Coffeehouse has not returned to serving coffee. Located on the third floor of the Viking Union at Western Washington University, the coffeehouse sat locked and unused for the better half of this year, before opening up for spring quarter. 

“We [got] a lot of feedback from students like ‘Why isn't it open, why is it closed this year?’” said Greg McBride, director of the Viking Union. “We had to work really hard to kind of build that bridge with food service [and say,] ‘Hey, we need this to open.’”

Now under Chartwells, the Underground Coffeehouse is planned to receive a remodel, with the hope of serving coffee again in the near future. The remodel has been met with mixed feedback from students. 

“One of the things the food service contractor came in and did was replace all the furniture and bring in newer, more modern furniture,” McBride said. “Some people like it, some people don't. Some people liked the shabby chic vibe.”

According to McBride, the coffeehouse was the brainchild of Western’s Associated Students and Sodexo, the food service contractor at the time of the coffeehouse’s creation. They took inspiration from the now-defunct Stuart’s Coffee House downtown, and the iconic coffee shop Central Perk from the television show "Friends."

Eamon Davine, a second-year Western student, enjoyed the coffeehouse because it reminded him of coffee shops in his home state of Minnesota. When he was a freshman with no car, the coffeehouse allowed him to have a space that felt different from his dorm or other parts of campus. 

“The Underground always felt like a secluded, semi-secret spot [that] a lot of people didn't know about,” said Davine. 

Taking student feedback into consideration, McBride explained the Viking Union’s plan to incorporate more laid-back and “whimsical” places on campus. One idea is a place McBride called The Den. The Den would include pool tables, foosball tables, air hockey and a fireplace so students can have a warm, dry place to hang out during the winter months. 

“The Underground is really successful when it's all functioning really well,” McBride said. “So can we build something like that upstairs, maybe not with the same student program initially, but [something like] those little pockets of whimsy that everyone needs to find for a little joy in their day.”

Bodey Mitchell

Bodey Mitchell (he/him) is a campus life reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a second-year Journalism pre-major. In his spare time, Bodey can be found snowboarding or playing guitar. You can reach him at

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