Anyone who has ever undertaken the long trek between West Campus to Main, or vice versa, has undoubtedly noticed, settled along the train tracks, a well-established institution of Villanovan life: Rosie’s Coffee at Villanova Station. Despite some changes in management over the years, this nook on campus — popularly known as Rosie’s — has been a frequent stop for students and SEPTA commuters alike for more than two years.
As some more seasoned residents of Villanova’s campus might recall, the train station — a registered historical site of Pennsylvania — has long been fitted as a coffee shop. It was formerly known as Rosie’s Mug and has long shared the space with the local SEPTA office. In early 2018, it underwent a change of management that ultimately conceived the Rosie’s that students know and love today. The story of how it came to be is remarkably fitting and rather representative of the ingenuity and creativity of its owner.
Some time during that spring semester, a University employee was strolling through campus when he noticed that space in the old train station building was up for sale. He told his wife, Deanna Galloway, immediately. It was an opportunity almost too good to be true. At the time, the couple’s youngest child (whose middle name, ironically, is Rose) had just turned 18 months, and Galloway was looking for a departure from her teaching career that still allowed her to be around young people in some way.
The opportunity was ripe, although not spontaneous. It was a sentimental pursuit in some sense. Galloway grew up in Montgomery County, never living more than a mile from a train station, one of which housed her favorite coffee spot. Her first job in high school was also at a Starbucks in a Barnes & Noble, although it was not until she had kids that coffee became a “necessity.” All along, however, the idea of opening her own place had been looming in her mind.
The location was just as perfect. Besides already being fitted as a coffee shop, it is also uniquely situated along the tracks so that it is on campus, although not technically owned by the University itself, allowing her some additional autonomy in promoting and expanding the business. The unique location also makes Rosie’s the only independent business to operate at the University.
With the start of the new term that August, after months of hard work and ingenuity, Rosie’s was officially opened to University students and passerbys alike. It was completely refurbished, adorned with a new logo and operated by its first staff of student employees. It has since become central to campus life, as it has to Galloway herself.
Any patron of Rosie’s knows that Galloway’s positivity is as inevitable as the sounds of delicious coffee and smoothies being prepared. She is keen to talk with her customers, particularly the students, and is known by her employees for her acute memory for names and faces. Although the people are her “favorite part of the job,” Galloway also takes great pride in knowing that she can provide a healthy alternative for University students to most locations on campus.
The menu is designed to fit the needs of any diet, with plenty of options, shifting by the month. Despite Rosie’s variety, Galloway herself sticks to the basics: an iced almond milk latte or an occasional banana bowl with Nutella and granola. Many customers who stop in between classes even have distinct custom orders, some of which have even made it onto the menu itself.
With the onset of COVID-19, which sent home all University students last March, Galloway has gotten even more creative with ways to drum up business.
“When we first bought the business, we discussed a lot of scenarios that could happen to affect it,” Galloway said. “We’ve encountered a few of those possibilities, but nothing has ever come close to this.” The return to an abnormal campus life this fall has forced some new regulations within Rosie’s to comply with local and state standards, and staff is notably dedicated to ensure it remains as safe a space as possible.
The business might be back, but it is certainly not the same. Consider stopping by to support this small business, even if it might be well out of the way of your normal route through campus. One visit is all it takes to realize how Rosie’s has continued to weather the storm, and how it has remained a staple of Villanova life to this day.