Kourova Milk Bar: A Relic of Another Time
Imagine this: An on-campus cafe run by students, for students, that serves drinks early in the morning and late at night. The walls are covered in art from generations of SU students and there is an open mic hosted every month that students can attend and participate in. The cafe is a place for students to relax and hang out with each other, free from the presence of the administration. What if I told you that this dreamy, student-run cafe was real?
Kourova Milkbar was a coffee shop, run solely by student volunteers, to the right of where SUPD is currently housed. Kourova Milkbar opened in 1996 and served as a go-to spot for students to meet up and drink coffee for almost 23 years. I’ve always been curious about the old field house where Kourova Milkbar used to be, just down the road from Kappa Alpha. The right half of the building is used as the SUPD headquarters while the bright red door to the left half still bears the words “Kourova Milkbar” in curly, silver letters. I had to know why Kourova wasn’t still up and running. On Google Maps, Kourova Milkbar is temporarily closed, yet the cafe has been out of operation since 2019. While I never got to sit down and have a latte in Kourova, the thought of a cozy, student-run cafe made specifically for college students sounds wonderful.
I spoke to associate dean of student life Derek Timourian about the Kourova Milkbar to understand why it closed down. After Covid, Kourova had to pause its operations for the safety of the SU community. Unfortunately, Mr. Timourian told me that the “Kourova part of the building [beside SUPD] is decaying” and that there are no plans to restore it. Today, what was formerly the Kourova Milkbar is used for pirate bike maintenance. However, there is talk of demolishing the old field house entirely because of issues related to the building’s age.
Kourova Milkbar will never again fill the old field house with the scent of ground espresso beans and steamed milk. But there still may be a future for the coffee shop, or something similar to it. Part of the plans for the renovations to Mood Bridwell may include installing a cafe in the building. Mr. Timourian told me that he is open to the possibility of the cafe being a collaborative effort with students— if there is enough interest. If we want something like Kourova back on our campus, we need to work with the SU administration to make it happen. After all, Kourova was born out of the hard work of students who volunteered their time to host a unique on-campus spot for the SU student body.
Since Covid, many Southwestern students have struggled to find community on campus. Part of the problem may be the lack of common spaces for students to hang out and simply be. The Cove is essentially the only option for grabbing coffee and food and meeting up with friends late at night. Yet the Cove is essentially still a place created with profit in mind, whereas Korouva was centered around student experience. Kourova Milkbar was passed down through generations of students who spent their free time serving up coffee in a space created by SU students. Former Korouva volunteer Sam Hays even called the cafe, “a tribute to the student body.”
Kourova Milkbar was a community space that encouraged students to make connections. Maybe if there was an on-campus spot that had a warm, student-centered environment like Kourova, SU students wouldn’t spend as much time alone in their residence halls using social media platforms that provide them with an impersonal community at best. Student retention and overall happiness may even improve because more people will be outside of their dorms, interacting with each other face-to-face.
A space like Kourova Milkbar is an essential part of the Southwestern experience. It could help build back the community SU lost during Covid and bring students together.
If SU administration and students work together, we can create a cafe like Kourova to improve life at Southwestern.