Though finals loom as obstacles between now and summer, Ground Zero Performance Café has the perfect solution for both cooling down and serving your study needs with its creative shakes and zero-distraction study environment during finals.
Tucked away behind Marks Residential Hall on the Exposition Boulevard side of campus, Ground Zero can be hard to find for first-timers. However, the performance cafe is truly a hidden gem that’s worth the trouble of seeking out because chances are that once you do, you’ll want to keep coming back — whether it be for a frosty blended treat or some quiet time to ramp up your productivity.
The entirely student-run coffeehouse has an artistic, laid-back vibe and quite a history. Originally, Ground Zero used to be a dining hall. Students protested shutting the space down as the university expanded, and some finally took it over, turning it into a small cafe run by themselves. Even though the space has gone through a series of changes and upgrades since then, the creative ambition amongst the Ground Zero staff can be felt to this day.
Many big names, such as Destiny’s Child, have graced the Ground Zero stage before they became famous. The cafe’s wall of autographed band T-shirts signals a history of past performers like the Plain White T’s, The 88, Quietdrive and Minus the Bear.
Today, the chalk menu board art and quirky shake names such as The Dirty Diaper grab your attention as soon as you walk in. New names are decided when students drop change into competing tip jars.
It helps that the milkshakes are delicious too. And want to know a little-known secret? You can order any seasonal shake, even if Christmas was five months ago. So, without further ado, here are the top-five off-the-menu milkshakes at GZ, in no particular order:
1. Bomb.com — An indulgent mix of chocolate, Oreos and coffee
2. Absent Father — A distinct and delicious blend of desert pear, Oreos and chocolate powder
3. Apple Pie — A comforting blend of sparkling apple cider, cinnamon, cookies and caramel
4. Choreo — A unique pairing of chai and Oreos
5. The Draco — A refreshing combination of Oreos, green mint and white chocolate
If that wasn’t enough reason to check out this creative cafe right on campus, Ground Zero is doing its part to be green, too, with biodegradable cups.
Before you know it, you’ll be addicted to its shakes and the atmosphere. The cafe even has a calendar of events you can check out on its website and Twitter. In addition, if you want to take a little Ground Zero home with you, you can stream its music anywhere by searching “Ground Zero Barista’s Playlist” on Spotify.
There you have it, more than enough reasons to go out of your way to seek out this hidden gem right on campus — during finals when they create a no-distraction haven, or any other time of year when it’s jam-packed with programming. If you’re a regular, you might want to try one of the secret shakes next time you go. New or old, the GZ staff will make you feel right at home.