The Duchess of Davenport: Rebecca Regan
Every American University student knows of the Davenport Coffee Lounge, called the Dav for short, tucked in the corner of the School of International Service. But even if you practically live at one of the corner tables and rely on the Dav for your daily caffeine fix, you likely don’t know much about how the Dav began or the woman who runs it.
Watching the Dav’s manager, Rebecca Regan, on a particularly busy Friday afternoon—between milk deliveries, a broken coffee grinder, and being short-staffed due to illness—I got an inside look at how crazy running a popular coffee shop on a college campus can be. But for Regan and the students who work at the Dav, a hectic environment is one in which they seem to thrive.
“Sometimes we run out of milk—and by sometimes I mean very often” said Brianna Hall, a freshman and one of Regan’s employees.
“I think [Regan] is an incredible manager,” Hall said. “She balances so many things at once. She wears so many different hats that she’s really an inspiration.”
With an estimated 3 to 5 thousand customers a week, the Dav is a staple in the lives of many AU students and professors, but it hasn’t always been the popular coffee shop it is today.
According to Regan, a group of students who “wanted a place where they could hang out and chain-smoke and discuss the pressing issues of the day” created the Dav in 1980. With the construction of Kay Spiritual Life Center in 1965, the old spiritual center in the East Quad Building had been left vacant. The dean granted students permission to turn what is now the commuter lounge into a coffee shop. In fact, the Dav’s original placard is still on display on the wall of the present day Dav, which moved locations when the new SIS building was built.
“She’s created a very…I don’t want to say casual, but everyone who works at the Dav has a lot of pride for working at the Dav and I think that comes directly from her,” Hall said. “Because [Regan] is so proud of the Dav, she holds it to such a high standard that it compels every employee to hold it to that same standard.”
Though the days of chain-smoking in cafés are over, the Dav remains a gathering place for the AU community.
“My favorite parts are definitely the people I get to interact with everyday.,” said Regan. “The staff is amazing…and interested in a lot of different things. The customers are supportive and nice, not like most service industry jobs.”