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Blue Owl Coffee relocates to Trowbridge

September 14, 2023
The front of Blue Owl Coffee's location on Trowbridge Road in East Lansing on Sept. 13, 2023. This Blue Owl Coffee location will be the closest to Michigan State University's campus once the Ann Street location closes.
The front of Blue Owl Coffee's location on Trowbridge Road in East Lansing on Sept. 13, 2023. This Blue Owl Coffee location will be the closest to Michigan State University's campus once the Ann Street location closes.

The rumors are true: Blue Owl Coffee, a staple for Michigan State University students and East Lansing residents, is moving from Ann Street to Trowbridge Road after five years. The Ann Street location will close during Thanksgiving break and the new location will officially open as an up-and-running coffee shop on Dec. 1st.

The Trowbridge location is currently being used, however, and has been in use since July. Beginning in the summer, Blue Owl has been utilizing their future location as a grab-and-go pop-up shop, and will continue to do so until December. 

Amid the relocation, coffee drinkers and customers are wondering why Blue Owl is moving, as well as what changes will be made.

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One of the owners and managers of Blue Owl Coffee, Rich Whitman, said he believes the new location is better than the current for a few reasons. 

“We have a lot of parking over there, so it will allow us to serve not only students but also a larger customer base,” Whitman said. 

With Ann Street and its surrounding roads requiring payment for parking — and the only free spots scarce — many customers are forced to walk or abandon their plan of going altogether. 

According to Whitman, Ann Street gets a lot of foot traffic from both students and East Lansing residents, especially during the summertime when the popular outdoor dining and entertainment Albert EL Fresco takes place; the road is closed to cars to promote walking around the streets and venturing out to various eateries and shops. 

However, Albert EL Fresco doesn’t give much business and attention to Blue Owl because the event serves nighttime restaurants and shops, like the Jolly Pumpkin, better than daytime.

“With us moving to Trowbridge, there’s a lot more opportunity there for other customers rather than just foot traffic customers,” Whitman said. 

Whitman also revealed that the rent is a lot cheaper near Trowbridge than it is near Ann Street, though he did not disclose the exact amount. 

Environmental studies and sustainability sophomore Dakota Ballard has been working as a barista at Blue Owl Coffee for just over a year. Ballard, who usually walks to work, said that though she isn't sure how she will navigate the commute when Blue Owl officially moves to Trowbridge, she is excited about the relocation. 

“I think it’ll be a nice change and I feel like there’s nothing bad that can come out of it,” Ballard said. “It’s still really close [to campus].”

MSU alumnus Alyssa Wilcosh went to Blue Owl as an undergraduate when they lived in a co-op on M.A.C. Avenue. Wilcosh said the coffee shop was very accessible to not only them, but also to students in general. They really enjoyed going there as often as they could because of its environment. 

“I had some friends that worked there and I liked the atmosphere a lot, and the drinks were really good,” Wilcosh said. “They play good music in there and it’s very inviting.”

However, Wilcosh said they do not think the relocation will be entirely beneficial for MSU students, especially the majority of upperclassmen who live far from campus. Instead, they said, people from the Greater Lansing Area will frequent Blue Owl more. 

“I think it kind of makes them a bit less accessible because that’s such a high-traffic area,” Wilcosh said. “I still feel like students are going to go there, especially those who live in South campus because it won’t be that far from South campus now, but I can see student clientele decreasing.”

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But what might grab students' attention are the fun events that used to occur more often, but slowly declined in the last few years. When the new location opens, Whitman said they fully plan on continuing open mic nights, jazz nights and other events that welcome anybody interested in coffee and entertainment.

Ballard said she is very excited about the events making a resurgence because open mic nights, especially, “create a space for talent” where people speak about poems, music and arts.

In addition to bringing back these events, the new location will also have a covered patio that creates outdoor seating for another 30-40 customers, as well as two mobile espresso bars (inside and outside), a full menu and a lot of the aspects carried over from the Ann Street location.

Whitman said he is very excited about the move and to see how the company builds on itself, grows and helps the community, a mission they have been involved with for the past seven years.

“We’ve been serving this side of campus for the better part of five years now and will be more on the southwest side of campus,” Whitman said. “We’re just trying to do everything we can to not only serve our customers but also serve the community; we’re very community-oriented.”

Neither Whitman nor Ballard knows who will be replacing Blue Owl after they close their Ann Street location. 

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