March 21, 2019

ZHANG | Yes, Zeus Is Better than Libe. But Goldie’s Is Better Than Both.

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Editor’s Note: This piece is part of The Sun’s dueling columns feature. In this feature, Katie Zhang ’21, Dining Editor, and Katie Sims ’20, former Associate Editor, debate, “Which cafe is better: Temple of Zeus or Amit Bhatia Libe Cafe?” Read the counterpart column here.

In the fast-paced bubble of our Cornell campus, Olin Library’s Amit Bhatia Libe Cafe is a humble, reassuring constant which stands firm through the confusing and unpredictable turns of college life. Libe is great. For a quick bite between cramming for a prelim and stressing out about how little you actually know for said prelim, Libe has you covered with enough snacks and caffeine to keep your mind wired until your brain falls out of your head. The cafe’s convenient hours make it easy to get the fix you need to push through those last couple sentences as night falls and the brightly lit view of the Arts Quad turns into your own eyes staring desperately back as your 11:59 p.m. Turnitin deadline draws nearer. While you might be breaking out in cold sweat as you race time to the finish, you’ll rest easy knowing you’re not sweating over wasting any real money — it was just BRBs anyway.

Libe is that family cafe you’ve been going to for years and know like the back of your hand. The plastic hard-back chairs and dinky, wobbly legged tables aren’t anything special, but their familiarity makes them comfortable. It’s a place where judgment and pride fall by the wayside, mostly because we’re all too busy waiting for our coffee orders to pay attention to any crisis you might be having in your life. Here, we are all the same. Here, you are never alone.

And none of this is to say that Zeus is bad. But I think that on the question of Zeus versus Libe, it’s not even a close call.

Zeus absolutely demolishes Libe. As I sit here writing this column that was originally supposed to be pro-Libe, I question why I agreed to argue this position in the first place. Who in their right mind thinks of the two and consciously decides that Libe is a superior eating, studying or relaxing destination? I exclusively eat at Libe when I’m stressed and hangry, feeling like I need to make a bad decision in way of a sugary drink or an equally — if not more — sugary cookie. I don’t study or relax in Libe either; that’s what the rest of Olin is for. Comparing Zeus to Libe is like comparing an organic, freshly picked apple to those sad bananas people keep leaving on the sidewalk.

However, after much thought, I’ve come to realize that comparing the two cafes isn’t even necessary. Indeed, a place that has both the quality-minded classiness of Zeus and the comforting familiarity of Libe already exists — and it’s Goldie’s. This inconspicuous cafe tucked away in the corner of the Physical Sciences Building gives us the best of both worlds and reigns supreme over them both.

I realize I’m taking a big risk here, completely disregarding the original question in favor of a cafe that is rarely, if ever, included in the long-raging Zeus-Libe debate. But as The Sun’s Dining Editor, I think it’s only fair that I get to flex the title just this once and point you all to the best cafe on campus.

Goldie’s is magical in that you can get actual, hot sandwiches and meals that are not only satisfying but also priced appropriately. You’re not burning real money on a soup and salad every day but can utilize your BRBs to their maximum value — a full Portobello Melt or Green Goddess costs only $5.99, which can’t even get you a full sandwich at Zeus. Combined with the fact that they also have Libe’s extensive snack selection, baked goods and speedy coffee service, there’s really no reason to count it out of the competition. Goldie’s mac and cheese cups are the perfect way to satisfy your momentary carb cravings, and the workers go out of their way to help make transactions as quick and painless as possible, even when the lines span the entirety of the building.

Without fail, Goldie’s staff are rays of sunshine in the midst of a stressful day — they are some of the friendliest workers that have ever graced Cornell Dining grounds, up there in the ranks with Happy Dave. The seating in Goldie’s is expansive as well, and the natural lighting that comes from the high ceilings and large windows gives it the Zeus vibe without the pretentiousness and artificiality that seems to permeate those marble countertop tables and lined-up Greek statues.

Yes, Goldie’s is a hotspot for STEM majors, and you’ll probably find yourself overhearing conversations about orgo lab or the latest chemistry prelim. But the people who go there are happy to share a table and conversation with you without pretense. I’ve been given some of the most reassuring advice for orgo lab from a random guy sitting at the same table as me, and that’s the kind of support I need in my life. Goldie’s is a constant throughout all the rare highs and plentiful lows of college life, providing good food and a space to decompress for those rough days that just never seem to end. And in the end, yeah, Libe isn’t bad, and Zeus is okay. But it’s Goldie’s that will always have my heart.

Katie Zhang is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She currently serves as the dining editor on the 137th editorial board. She can be reached at kzhang@cornellsun.com.