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Joe Van Gogh — a coffee business with five locations across the Triangle — opened its newest location in Roper Hall on UNC's campus on Nov. 6.

Robbie Roberts, the owner of Joe Van Gogh, started roasting coffee in 1991 and opened his first location in Chapel Hill's Timberlyne Shopping Center in 1995. The business is currently based in Hillsborough, with locations in Durham and Raleigh. 

Apollo Suen, the assistant store manager for the new location, said Joe Van Gogh roasts its coffee in local roastworks and packages it in its factory in Hillsborough.

Suen, who has worked in restaurants before, but not in coffee, said he had learned a lot about the company and its production since he joined the team.

Em Welsh, the store manager of the new location, said almost all of the business’ ingredients — for both food and beverages — overwhelmingly come from local businesses, farms and families.  They also said the store receives fresh deliveries of pastries, sandwiches and flavored syrups for coffee and tea early each morning.

Roberts said Joe Van Gogh has also been providing UNC Hospitals with Joe Van Gogh coffee for nearly seven years.

Roper Hall, UNC School of Medicine's newest building, opened on Sept. 18 of this year. Joe Van Gogh announced its location in the building on Sept. 6.

“Joe Van Gogh already sponsors the women’s soccer games, so I think ultimately Joe Van Gogh’s hope on this campus is to support each other — both us supporting students, students supporting us in a positive feedback loop,” Welsh said.

The coffee chain was the first-ever sponsor for the UNC women's soccer team in it's 2022-23 season.

According to Roberts, Aramark, who handles concessions for UNC, initially reached out to the business about opening a location at UNC.

“It's definitely felt like a long time coming, just finally getting to open fully and to offer all of our products and everything be set up how we feel like it's going to work best is very gratifying,” Welsh said.

Though this new location was publicly announced in a September Instagram post, it has been in planning for three years, they said.

“It’s been a while that we had known it was coming but getting it here had a lot of inspections to go through,” Roberts said.

Suen said the new location has encountered challenges getting acquainted with dining services on campus. He said getting aligned with UNC's standards — like nutritional information and having Joe Van Gogh’s culinary director work with a nutritionist on campus — has been a challenge.

“It's just like any other new restaurant or new cafe opening, in the weeks prior, in the months prior, to setting everything up,” he said.

The new location is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and is closed on weekends. Though it is in the medical school, the location is open to all UNC students and Chapel Hill community members.

“We're just here to support and continue to build this community of coffee lovers and support our local community as well with local farmers that we source our ingredients from,” Suen said.

@DTHCityState |

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