The Bus Stop Café: A home away from home

“When your mother is 1,000 kilometres away and long distance bills [are] too high, you can still go to the Bus Stop,” wrote alum Cheryl Fieguth in 1987.

She was referring not to the transit hub, but to the campus café (situated beside UBC’s original bus stop, now occupied by a Triple O’s). The café was noteworthy both for the cozy solace it gave homesick students like Fieguth, and for its quirky layout. Servers bustled about with coffee and cinnamon buns in several sunken pits, placing them at face-level with the customers perching at the surrounding counters. The impression from a distance, according to one former patron, was that the staff all appeared to be incredibly short.

Those seemingly tiny waitresses, many of whom had worked there for decades, made up a large part of the café’s charm. Alumni remember the servers as motherly figures whose sound advice and good humour buoyed up many a floundering student. The servers’ legendary kindness made them campus “celebrities in their own right,” recalls Andy Shaw, BCom’84. When Shaw ran into a former Bus Stop waitress in Kits 30 years after he’d graduated, he recognized her instantly.

Alas, there is an end to everything. In 1990, despite students’ petitions and mournful letters to The Ubyssey, the café served its last cup of coffee and the David Lam Management Research Library sprouted up in its stead. Announcing the library’s opening, The Ubyssey grumbled, “Those of us who remember the Bus Stop Café are thinking this building better have a damn good snack bar.”

A waitress smiles at UBC students.
Last day of service at the Bus Stop Café. Photo: Bob Jemison. UBC Library UBC 44.1/590-1.