No car? No problem.
Like many students who live on campus, I do not have a car. My off-campus trips are limited to the Sunday shopping route and Suffolk County Transit bus rides. This can sometimes make it feel like there’s a 10-foot wall surrounding Stony Brook and its campus life, isolating it from everything else. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.
The Long Island Railroad station is relatively accessible to students. Whether trekking the path that leads from H Quad or taking the campus buses, most students can get there easily. On the other side of the tracks are a handful of restaurants and stores, a small mix of chains and small businesses that have been a saving grace whenever I need a getaway from campus.
We, as a part of the community, have an obligation to support the restaurants, stores and other surrounding businesses. To encourage these places to become more prominent and accessible to our students, we need to show an interest in them. And if we want to escape the price-gouging of the university and have some cheaper options nearby, we need to be more attentive to those that currently help us in that regard.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the various businesses that surround the campus, in no specific order.
Whether you are still waiting for the Dunkin’ on campus to open or are sick of waiting in the long line at Starbucks, your problems will be solved by the Dunkin’ location across from the railroad station. Students can always be found here, typing away on their laptops or working on art projects, and it is often like a campus away from campus. The staff has always been friendly, which is all one could really ask for from a Dunkin’.
Our next place of interest is another one of my favorites. You can’t grab some lottery tickets or a plethora of ice cream choices on campus, but luckily there’s a close option. These can all be found at this local 7-Eleven, all for reasonable prices. It’s a convenience store — better and cheaper than either of the campus emporiums — and it has Slurpees. Need I say more? It has the most random items that a college student might need or crave, without having to Uber for it.
- Kung Fu Tea
You might just miss the next location if you’re not paying attention: Kung Fu Tea. If ChaTime fatigue has set in (which may not be possible) and a cheaper option is necessary, Kung Fu Tea might do the trick. While it is a quaint little place, its rendition of taro milk tea was enough to satisfy my craving. However, if chain locations aren’t satisfactory enough and a small business is higher on the list of preferences, there are plenty of options.
- Druthers Coffee
Druthers Coffee would be the clear alternative to Dunkin’ if one is in need of breakfast or morning caffeine, as they have a variety of coffees, teas and pastries. It is a refreshing take on the coffee shop environment, replacing dimly lit spaces with broad windows that allow the sunshine to cast upon those who choose to sit and study there. When I visited in the afternoon, there was a good mixture of students and neighborhood locals. I will definitely be back to try their award-winning breakfast sandwich and signature coffee in the future.
For those with a sweet tooth, I recommend what is probably my favorite location on this list: Chocology. They have limited hours, but my one visit so far was enough to impress me. I was guided through a chocolate experience and was given free samples of milk and dark chocolate, as well as some fresh fudge. They also sell chocolate that is free of the top eight allergens, so even if dietary restrictions are an issue, don’t worry. They have seats and a coffee table where they always have a puzzle set up. If customers finish the puzzle, they get to pick the next one. It’s certainly a cozy experience, and I recommend that everybody pay Chocology a visit during their time here at Stony Brook.
- Soup’s On
Soup’s On, a soup and sandwich shop, is perfect for a chilly fall day. Their food is a little bit on the expensive side depending on what you order, but something that costs under $10 was enough to last me for meal and a half. If you are craving a warm cup of soup fresh off the stove, then this is the perfect place to visit.
- The Halal Hut
My second favorite of the small businesses is The Halal Hut, which is a build-your-own style restaurant for halal food. I got my food on a pita, but customers can also choose rice or salad. The employees were friendly and struck up casual conversations between the staff and customers. The location was clean and well-maintained, so diners won’t feel uncomfortable eating in the restaurant itself. It seemed to be fairly popular on the weekends, as plenty of students were coming and going. The pita was filled with a more than reasonable amount of protein and was enough to last me two full meals. It was tasty, and I could imagine it being the ideal alternative on weekends for those with halal diets, when that section is closed in East Side Dining.
- Station Pizza & Brew
This next location has some of the best deals in the Stony Brook area. At Station Pizza & Brew, customers can get four garlic knots for $1 after tax. Even if they were the most disgusting garlic knots I had ever tasted in my life, I still would purchase them time and time again for the sheer deal that they are. They definitely satisfied my craving and were a great alternative compared to the nearby $7 garlic knots at Domino’s. If garlic knots aren’t alluring enough, Station Pizza & Brew contributes to the community by donating to surrounding organizations, and the walls are covered with certificates of public appreciation. They have donated to Stony Brook Medicine, ALS Ride for Life and the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library. The restaurant was empty on a Saturday evening when I went, when it should have been bustling with orders.
These businesses deserve our contributions — they provide for the community. I implore students to take a stroll and explore the area across from the railroad tracks, try something new and support local businesses. Stony Brook University does not need to feel restricted or isolated from the rest of society, and this can be mended by exploring beyond the campus — even for those who don’t have a car.