By Abigail Jarvis
For the Cleveland State University community and coffee addicts alike, Café Ah-Roma is a familiar face on Euclid Avenue. The downtown Cleveland cafe location has been open for about 19 years and continues to be a friendly exam fuel station for Cleveland State students and faculty. For fifth-year marketing student, Emery Sipe, the cafe holds special significance. She recently became one of the managers of the shop. Sipe knows that Ah-Roma is a great place for CSU students based on the regulars who visit.
“There’s a lot of students in the engineering college that come over, we have a couple of TAs that come over, sit down and talk to us about them working on labs with other students, and a lot of professors that come in. We love talking to them and seeing them all the time,” Sipe said.
Sipe has been working at Café Ah-Roma for two and a half years and has loved the experience. Being a student, and for four years an active softball player at CSU, she had a lot to juggle on her schedule. Although busy, the café’s owners are flexible and have made the school-work balance an accessible and smooth experience.
“The workload was manageable, especially because the owner, Mary, did great. She’s very open to communicating with her workers about what they need… she’s just a great person and a great listener.”
Like many small businesses during the pandemic, Café Ah-Roma has faced its fair share of challenges. Sipe stepped into her management position during the pandemic and recognized how COVID-19 has affected Café Ah-Roma.
“We’ve probably been making about half as much as we normally would during a normal period. We really base our sales on CSU students. Since the school had to limit in-person interactions, there are not as many CSU students on campus,” Sipe explained.
Despite these challenges, Café Ah-Roma has remained open and approachable. They focus on locality, personal connections, and customer service. The shop is known for its organic, fair trade, house-brewed drip coffees which Sipe explained are all sourced and ground locally. Other popular favorites are the holiday and specialty brews. Sipe’s seasonal favorites that she recommends the CSU regulars keep an eye out for are the Cranberry Cream, the Rudolf’s Rocky Road, and the Jingle Bell Java. Lively brews and quality customer service are what Sipe believes keeps CSU students and staff coming into Café Ah-Roma.
“Getting to know everyone on a personal level makes the experience there so much more; it is what makes us different bigger brand coffee houses and restaurants. Our mission is to make personal connections because that is what really gets people coming back in the door.”
Chances are if you have ever listened to a “lofi study” or “rain on coffee shop window” playlist on Youtube that you’ve stepped into Café Ah-Roma; if you haven’t, they are located on 2230 Euclid Ave. across the street from Berkman Hall. Their hours are 7 am – 5:30 pm on weekdays and 7 am – 2 pm on the weekends. Masks and social distancing is mandatory inside the shop.