Aside from making coffee and sandwiches, the baristas at the Alleycat Café sometimes find themselves playing the role of bouncers and counselors.
“I’ve been in a lot of times where I have been a counselor to a lot of people,” said Yousef Borne, a barista at Alleycat Café. “One of my co-workers once sent someone who was not having the best of nights up to me and he talked to me for hours on end about his life problems. I personally don’t mind because I love hearing people talk, but it is interesting that I’ve become a counselor in addition to a barista.”
Borne has been working at the Alleycat Café for about two years, and said he had quite a handful of interesting encounters and experiences, especially during the night shifts.
“I’ve seen a lot and there has definitely been tales of things happening, many of which involve transients in town and the bar crowd, which are sort of expected for during this time of night,” Borne said.
One incident Borne remembers specifically occurred about a year ago when a homeless woman threw a cup full of water directly at Borne.
“We try to enforce the rule of no outside food or drink in the café, and she was asking for hot water to brew her own tea,” Borne said. “I told her ‘Well I’m sorry ma’am, we can’t provide hot water to you because that’s just against our policy … she just yelled ‘rapist’ at the top of her lungs, threw a cup full of cold water at me, knocked over a few things and started yelling all sorts of things about murder and how she was in a dynasty. She broke two potted plants on her way out and tipped over a few things.”
Matara Liebow, a communications and leadership sophomore at Colorado State University as well as a barista at the Alleycat Café, said the coffee shop has had some problems with the homeless sleeping overnight in the café in the past. She said employees are now enforcing a zero tolerance policy on overnight stays.
“I’ve seen some weird things where some baristas would have to kick some people out but I’ve never seen anything crazy where they would have to call like six policemen or anything,” Liebow said. “I’m usually not the one to kick people out either. I’m usually the cheerful one who just likes to give people coffee.”
Liebow has been a barista at the Alleycat Café for about 2 1/2 years. According to Liebow, the Alleycat Café gives off a sense of community and artistic feel that she enjoys.
“I think it’s a warm place to be with all the social interaction and comfort, and a lot of people would come here to just hang out with the baristas or when they have nowhere else to go,” Liebow said. “We’re social. We’re nice and I think that’s comforting to a lot of people.”
Tedla Tyndall has been working at the Alleycat Café for seven months, and said he also appreciates the Alleycat Café’s strong community feel.
“You’d think that being open 24 hours would attract a lot of negative experience, but I’ve seen a large amount of just super positive people,” Tyndall said. “The community is a tight-knit crowd with its own unique style. I’m a pretty plain person so I’m being slowly assimilated into this group that’s really stylized and eccentric.”
Collegian Reporter Amanda Thompson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @amanduhh3003.