Stanford night owls and coffee fanatics would be hard pressed to find a coffee shop near campus open past 10 p.m. — that is, until four students created Surf N’ Skate, a coffee shop run out of their own dorm room.
At the coffee shop, which is open from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and located in room 127 of Escondido Village Graduate Residences (EVGR) Building A, customers are greeted by a neatly printed menu on a whiteboard outside the door.
The menu features names like the “Ollie,” the “Layback” and the “Brick,” all harkening back to skating and surfing moves and also in line with the coffee shop’s California theme. To those unfamiliar, this translates to hot chocolate, a latte and an ice cream sandwich. The menu also includes coffee, affogato, matcha and boba drinks.
After ordering, customers are welcome to sip and stay. Founders Jake Lee ’23, Maiya Mao ’23, Dhruv Sumathi ’23 and Isaac Wayne ’23 outfitted the room with a couch underneath a geometric arrangement of ambient LED lights. If you come on the right night, there might be a live music performance with Lee on the piano, Sumathi on the saxophone and vocals and guitar from Mao.
Surf N’ Skate opened four weeks ago and has provided the founders with a unique opportunity to create a community in EVGR, according to Lee. He said it was hard to find community in EVGR, compared to his all-frosh dorm pre-pandemic. “It kind of felt like a hospital — it’s hard to have this place feel warm,” he said. Since Surf N’ Skate opened, students have said the building feels “a little more homey,” Mai added.
To advertise, the founders slipped flyers under room doors in EVGR, bringing people from all over the building down to room 127. Soon, floormates were mingling over coffee, and students from different class years were giving each other advice. Community is central to this endeavor: a sign with a QR code on the door reads, “No one answering the door? Scan to shoot us a text!”
In addition to EVGR residents, the founders have noticed students from other dorms, including Mirrielees and some frosh dorms, frequenting Surf N’ Skate. With the initial disappearance of late-night dining options when campus reopened following the COVID-19 pandemic, the founders said they saw an opportunity to serve customers after hours.
Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland wrote in a statement to The Daily that the operation of Surf N’ Skate constitutes a violation of Stanford’s Residence Agreement, which forbids students from operating entrepreneurial enterprises out of their dorm rooms.
But according to Sumathi, the founders met with a Residential Education Resident Director last Monday to make their case for staying in operation. “I think we have a strong case for staying open,” Sumathi said. The founders circulated a petition to signal EVGR residents’ support of Surf n’ Skate. University spokesperson Pat Lopes Harris declined to comment on the contents of the meeting.
Opening a coffee shop had been a long-term goal of Lee and Mao’s, and they said they hope to keep Surf N’ Skate running through next year. The founders expect to add food to the menu soon, as well as a seasonal drink or two.
“Our goal is for one day [Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne] to come over for a cup of coffee,” Lee joked.
This article has been corrected to reflect that the Resident Director is affiliated with Residential Education, not R&DE. The Daily regrets this error.