Street: Tell us who you are, and what you do on campus. Russell Abdo: I’m the general manager at WilCaf. My other campus commitments are: I’m on the board for Front Row Theatre company, on the board for Penn Leads the Vote, I’m the Pennacle pre-orientation coordinator, and I’m also on Carriage exec, which is the new LGBTQIA senior society. Gary Kafer: I’m one of WilCaf’s chief supervisors and marketing director. I do radio at WQHS where I’m the head music writer and blog editor...and that’s pretty much it, because Russell outshines me. Melissa Vo: I know, right? How am I supposed to follow Russell? I’m just a plebeian barista at WilCaf. I’m also the music director of Quaker Notes, the a capella group. Besides that I’m just in TriDelt. GK: We’re all in TriDelt. MV: We’re actually all sisters. GK: We all have TriDelt fling tanks. RA: We should’ve worn those for our photo.
Street: How did you guys reach such cult status? RA: [laughs] We’ve really been trying! We have fling tanks and everything—the front says “Get your drink on,” and the back says, “Just Bursar it. Rush WilCaf 2013.” But to be honest, though, I don’t know. When I started working, WilCaf was fun, and we definitely had an awareness about us and visibility, but it wasn’t the same kind of cult status that we have now. It sounds silly, but we’re so selective with people we hire now. GK: When I started working there, I don’t think we even had a marketing manager or any way of reaching out to other groups. MV: Yeah, have you read our twitter?
Street: If you guys were a frat, what would be your stereotype? MV: Hipster coffee snobs. RA: Maybe kind of like a bougie, we’re–better–than–you, hipster commune. GK: It’s true though.
Street: What’s your favorite drink that you serve? RA: Ever? I love dirty chais. It’s a chai latte with a shot of espresso and it’s like, if you’re tryna get caffeinated, it’s bang for your buck right there. MV: I love the Beyoncé. RA: Oh yeah, we have a Beyoncé latte. It’s chocolate and caramel. Obviously. GK: We don’t serve it, but I always used to spike my coffee with amaretto in the morning. RA: We should probably not say that.
Street: If you guys had a drink named after yourself, what would it be? RA: A PBR with a shot of espresso. GK: Wait that would be mine. MV: It would probably be really sweet. With lots of espresso. RA: MelVo also just eats little cups of whipped cream with syrup on them. MV: That would be my drink.
Street: What’s the biggest perk of working at WilCaf? RA: We get free coffee. Which goes a long way when you’re in college. To the point where, like, I stopped drinking water, and I only drink iced coffee now. GK: We also get the day–old pastries free. MV: Also, it’s just really fun!
Street: How do you feel about Starbucks? GK: They can do whatever they want. They suck, we know that. But it’s so annoying with all the sorority girls coming in and being like, “Can I have a tall, skinny vanilla latte?” MV: Yeah, so annoying. That tall? No, you can’t have a tall. You’re going to have a small. RA: I mean, I like Starbucks though. GK: Yeah, you’re a gold card member. RA: I’m not a gold card member. I’m close to being a gold card member. It’s only because of the summer, and I was buying it all the time. Paying for coffee sucks.
Street: Who’s your alter ego? MV: Blackout me versus regular me. GK: They’re the same person, though. RA: I can’t wait until Blackout MelVo starts looking for jobs and they google you and find this interview. GK: Russell’s my alter ego. MV: Gary’s would be Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh.” GK: That’s my normal me. RA: Randy. When I wore my glasses when I went out, I would take them off and I would go by Randy, my drunk alter ego. But I started wearing contacts this semester, and now I see people, and they’ll either go, “Oh, where are your glasses?” or “Oh my god, Randy!”
Street: Marry, fuck, kill: Robin Williams, the Williams sisters, William Penn. GK: I think a fivesome with the Williams sisters would be pretty cool. RA: Wait, is this with all of us? If so, I think we would fuck the Williams sisters, marry Robin Williams, and kill William Penn. Yeah? MV: No way! I would marry William Penn. GK: She’s a gold digger...but I don’t think I’d marry Robin Williams either. RA: Okay, definitely fuck the Williams sisters. I think we can agree on that. It’d be really engaging with all the tennis noises and everything. I’m already imagining this.
Street: What’s your secret talent? GK: I’m actually good at finding dead animals. RA: Gary wants to start “Dead Animals@Penn: the Insta.” GK: I’m serious. I already have, like, 50 pictures. RA: People will send him photos of dead animals. MV: Yeah, I’ve sent him dead things before. RA: I know how to juggle? But I’m not that good at it. Do I have any other secret talents? GK: No, that’s it.
Street: What’s your spirit animal? RA: Oh, my spirit animal’s a lion, and I’ll tell you why. Because they’re natural born leaders but they rest for twenty out of twenty–four hours a day— GK: Oh, shut up. Shut up. MV: You can’t be a lion! RA: Why not? All my friends are like, you’re not a lion, you’re like a fucking meerkat. But I wanna be a lion! It’s my Ego interview, and I want to be selfish. MV: That’s like saying you’re a swan or something. They’re apparently really bitchy. GK: I’m a swan. MV: I’m probably a chinchilla or something. I’m something fluffy. RA: You could be a panda bear. MV: I could be a panda bear. They’re such oafs though! RA: They just eat a lot… GK: They black out at night… MV: Well, there you go. I’m a panda.
Street: If you guys could be sexy anything for Halloween, what would it be? RA: I had a sexy Halloween costume last year, but I don’t remember it… MV: My friends want to be earthworms! Totally not sexy. We were at a thrift store, and there was like a nude colored robe—it looks like human skin. And we thought it would be funny to be earthworms. We’d just nude out our eyebrows, wear a bald cap. And we’ll just wiggle. RA: Imagine if you went to Smokes in that. MV: We wouldn’t have any friends. GK: One year I was a soda can.
Street: Was it a sexy soda can? GK: No, it wasn’t really that sexy.
Street: What famous trio are you guys most like? RA: Oooh, we’re TLC! Gary’s Lisa Left Eye. She’s the one that died, right? GK: Yeah. Yikes. RA: Or Destiny’s Child. We love Destiny’s Child. I’m Beyoncé. GK: Definitely. RA: And MelVo’s Kelly, and you’re Michelle. But you embrace it. If anyone’s gonna be Michelle, it’s going to be you. GK: Me, yeah! RA: We play a lot of Destiny’s Child. We have our Beyoncé Latte. And when we first came up with that, we changed the words to “Jumpin’, Jumpin’” to be about WilCaf. It was “Ladies, leave your Starbucks at home, because—" GK: "we accept Bursar—" RA: “and we serve La Colombe. And all you fellas leave your mugs at home, ‘cause it’s 9:30 and the café’s—” RA, GK and MV: “Bumpin’, bumpin’.”
Street: There are two kinds of people at Penn… GK: People who order iced skinny vanilla lattes and people who order iced cappuccinos. It’s funny because they’re the same person. Cafe humor, ha—ha. RA: People that recognize WilCaf as a frat/cult and everybody that doesn’t work at WilCaf. GK: There’s Italian single espresso man and everybody else. MV: Williams is the language building so everyone who comes in has like some kind of accent. We have this Italian professor who comes, and he’s a silver fox. He’s a looker, and he comes in every day and just orders a “single ‘spresso.” GK: It’s actually like three times a day. “Single ‘spresso.” RA: He’s our one and only. We probably talk about him at least once a day. MV: I don’t think he says anything else. RA: I’m like, “How are you?” Nothing, just “Single ‘spresso.”
Street: What is one sentence that will convince everyone to go to William’s Café? GK: I always tell people in class that we have the cheapest coffee and the sexiest people. RA: We’re pretty, we’re caffeinated, get used to it. MV: We say that all the time.