New campus hangout emerges in downtown Winchester
By Clara Gilleland
When you walk into the Hideaway Cafe, located across from the Handley Library in downtown Winchester, you’ll most likely be greeted by co-owners Victoria Kidd and Jess Clawson with a smile.
The Hideaway Cafe is the perfect new spot in Winchester to enjoy a great cup of coffee with friends. Kidd, Clawson, and their third co-owner, Christy Berghoff, are constantly working to make the cafe a hotspot for Shenandoah University students, and their efforts thus far have been successful.
From encouraging student performances on their Friday and Saturday-night entertainment specials to creating a unique safe space “for all our guests, regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, religion, etc.,” according to a sign proudly displayed on their counter, the Hideaway Cafe encourages students and community members alike to “come as you are. We are happy to see you.”
The owners are also adamant to promote other local businesses, even using locally-sourced baked goods.
Hideaway had their grand opening on April 2, and so far they have already sold over 7,000 cups of coffee, an accomplishment that makes Kidd and Clawson feel proud, grateful, and excited. While the cafe currently only offers pastries to accompany their wide variety of beverages, they are hoping to expand soon to potentially include foods like sandwiches and salads in their menu.
Kidd and Clawson say that they think they have three specific traits that make their cafe so unique.
The first is just how big the cafe is. There’s no worry of being overcrowded in the large area; there are plenty of tables to enjoy your coffee at, and there is even a lounge area that includes shelves stocked with tons of books and games to enjoy.
Kidd also explained that Hideaway truly uses the very best coffee. The roaster they source their coffee from uses only the top five percent quality coffee beans in the world, so Hideaway customers will know that they’re getting the best cup for their money.
Finally, Kidd and Clawson really do want to create a positive, safe space in the community. They want all of their customers to feel welcome and comfortable, especially SU students. Their thoughtfulness is shown in numerous ways, including free WiFi for students to be able to come and study, a free parking lot so students won’t have to worry about paying parking meters out front, their willingness to let students start a tab, and even their enthusiasm in trying to work with the school to create the ability to accept Flex dollars at Hideaway.
They also excel at customer service.
“I know my regulars,” Kidd said. “I know what they’re studying, what they’re interested in, what their usual order is, I can even tell if they’re having a bad day or not.”
When I visited Hideaway, the owners were friendly and very helpful, even before they ever knew I would be writing an article on their cafe. My order was prepared quickly, and everything was priced very reasonably. I definitely enjoyed the delicious chocolate croissant I ordered, which is one of their best sellers along with their apple turnovers. The vanilla latte they served was what I can honestly call the best latte of my life. It’s no wonder I loved it so much: their lattes and their mochas are two of their most popular items. However, if you really want to get the best thing on the menu, Kidd said that you have to try their “Life Changing Hot Chocolate,” complete with mini marshmallows on top. If none of those peak your interest though, the owners are happy to work with you.
“We’ve had people come in here who have never even had coffee before,” says Clawson, but she and Kidd want to help you find a drink you’ll love.
“We’ll keep trying things out until we find the right fit for you!” Kidd noted.
The owners of Hideaway Cafe want to promote the “Hideaway lifestyle” by creating a safe space where students can always feel welcome and accepted. Before the school year ends, stop by Hideaway Cafe – it’ll be your new favorite spot before you know it.
Photos by Clara Gilleland