March 11, 2003

Sub-way to go!

The owners of the Subway franchise on 55th Street have succeeded admirably in creating an environment for late-night gathering. Though the project started in service of giving exposure to the Cricket World Cup, Subway has become a heavily used late-night spot for students and Hyde Park residents alike.

Not all the 24-hour establishments in this area have been so successful. The eventual closing of Stay Up 4ever was precipitated by sagging consumer interest and misuse of the coffee shop's amenities, among other things. But no such problems have been present at Subway. Presumably, Subway's business has been buoyed by what appears to be substantial student interest in the Cricket World Cup, but a late-night phenomenon has come into its own. Hyde Park's denizens seem to appreciate the space for what it is.

If all-night dining spaces are not an essential element of a college community, they certainly work to its benefit. Students seeking emergency meals feel less need to range into other parts of the city, thus avoiding some of the related difficulties of navigating Chicago at night. Moreover, the popularity of the cricket matches at Subway suggests another value to its extended hours, one that seems insignificant but grows in importance as our distance increases from our time at the U of C--such impromptu gatherings are famously a revered aspect of college life, and for all the value of the 24-hour A-Level at the Reg, it's not a place to impose conversation, or cricket, on one's peers. Subway provides a venue for this, and we will likely find ourselves increasingly thankful for it.

For the first time in recent memory, we now have a resource that's long been a desire of students, both officially and unofficially, and we appear to appreciate it. Its mere existence is not the only reason for its success, however. Some of it is timing, some of it is the wise management by Subway's owners, and some of it is the odd tastes of the University community. Future late-night wirtschaftvolk should take note that extended hours attract an unconventional crowd that expects not only simplicity and accessibility but familiarly unconventional amenities that will keep us out of bed and up all night.