Life on a college campus can feel like a never-ending buzz. One on-campus hotspot provides an escape from the daily hustle with a little entertainment and a whole lot of cafe con leche.
Vicky Cafe, next door to the Frost Art Museum, offers the whole gamut: morning cafecito, salsa on Tuesdays, monthly open mic nights, Cuban sandwiches for lunch and midday sangria mimosas.
“I think people feel comfortable here since we have a bit of everything,” said Ras Acevedo, a finance major and manager at Vicky’s. “People will camp out here all day. It’s like my second home, too.”
The cafe not only serves up its caffeinated beverages and pastelitos, but also hosts a range of community events and gatherings. Acevedo said that staff at the cafe make an effort to create a neighborly atmosphere. Casual barside chats, hip music and local art all add to its aura.
Located near the school of music and theatre department, the cafe has become a haven for students in the department. A group of theater majors sat on the outside patio on a sunny breezy Tuesday, some drinking beers and others sipping coffee.
“It’s like a sanctuary,” said Indy Sullierro, a junior theater major. “It’s like visiting the next door shop and having lunch there.”
The center of campus tends to feel like rush hour, Sullierro said, while Vicky’s offers a chance to break away from the jet stream.
“Here you can really connect with people because over there is so fast paced,” she said, motioning to the patio seating and the campus pond in between Vicky’s and on-campus dorms. “This is more like a lounge. and the nature aspect you have the outside really helps people get together.”
Even when a busy class schedule calls for cafecito on the go, Vicky’s is a home base to touch before heading back out, Sullierro said.
Kevin Sage, a junior theater major studying lighting design, said its location next to the Frost Museum and urban-style art inside the cafe adds to its appeal, especially for other students in his field.
“You have the museum, and you have the theater department, so all the artistic people can kind of gather,” Sage said.
Vicky’s hosts salsa nights on Tuesdays from 3 to 7 p.m. by Salsa Kings.
Andres Fernandes, owner of the SW 8th Street-based Salsa Kings, said that the organization has hosted its free casual, beginner-friendly salsa nights at FIU for at least a decade. He said they jumped on the chance to host at a space like Vicky’s as soon as the cafe opened about three years ago.
“The place is what we were looking for, its homey,” Fernandes said. “We try to make Salsa Kings known for its warm and welcoming vibe, since Latin dance can be intimidating for some.”
Once a month, student club Parametric Audio hosts open mic nights at Vicky’s. The FIU community is invited to sing, play instruments, read poetry, tell jokes or whatever else they may be inclined to perform.
Acevedo said he believes its the events hosted at Vicky’s — the open mic and salsa nights, as well as academic departments and student groups who host get-togethers at the cafe — are at the core of its neighborly feel.
It offers a great atmosphere for these types of gatherings, and creates that “homey” feel even outside of such events. Vicky’s is not just a coffee shop, he emphasized, it’s a haven of comfort and community.
“It’s kind of like an island away from campus, but still at the campus,” Acevedo said.
The cafe as a whole is more than just a cafe to Sage. “It’s just an incredible space for people to come together,” he said. “I wouldn’t even look at this place as a cafe. It obviously is, but it’s just Vicky’s.”