Student Stories

The College by the Cup: Hallowed Grounds

For decades, UChicago's student-run coffee shops have given community members space to congregate (and caffeinate) on their own terms. The cafés started small—Ex Libris began as a pair of vending machines when the Regenstein Library first opened in the early 1970s—but over the years, their role on campus has become paramount. In this series, we explore the unique atmospheres of UChicago's five student-run coffee shops: Ex Libris, Cobb Café, Hallowed Grounds, Harper Café, and Grounds of Being. Previously: Cobb Café.

Name: Hallowed Grounds (formerly Uncle Joe's)

Location: Reynolds Club, second floor

Manager: Matt Wolf, Class of 2014

Atmosphere: hip and homey

Soundtrack: barista's choice

Staff favorites: pumpkin spice latte and apple cider

Go for: the eclectic events or a casual game of pool

You don't just wander into Hallowed Grounds: you have to know it's there. They advertise their presence with signs downstairs in the Reynolds Club, and last year they made a Facebook page, but manager Matt Wolf emphasizes that students come to Hallowed Grounds because they want to.

But once you arrive, it is immediately clear why it serves as a hub of student life on campus. Hallowed Grounds blends in perfectly with the Gothic aesthetic of the UChicago campus—low lights, dark panelling, wrought-iron window frames, over-stuffed sofas and, to top it all off, a pool table. It's dignified—did I mention it has a pool table? But it's also homey, a kind of campus living room.

It's the perfect place to go for a long study session with The Wealth of Nations, a meeting with your TA, or an overdue coffee date with a friend. Beyond ambience, Hallowed Grounds sets itself apart by serving the gamut of caffeinated beverages—their special is a pumpkin spice latte—as well as vegan cookies from The Chicago Diner, bottled Coke, apple cider, and food delivered from local restaurants.

From behind the coffee bar, the student baristas are allowed to play their own music, which adds to the sense that Hallowed Grounds is a space created for and by students. It serves as a gathering place for the student body, often hosting events like poetry slams and RSO info sessions. In 2012 they pushed aside the sofas and set up a projector running live results from the presidential election. With its cozy vibes and strong sense of community, the café is clearly more than a place to caffeinate between classes. For a devoted base of customers, the name "Hallowed Grounds" couldn't be more apt: this coffee shop is truly a sacred space.