Sending Gratitude to McGregor Skybar

Maybe it’s the lingering spirit of Thanksgiving, but I’m really feeling thankful this week. As a student in the Conservatory, there are so many things I get the privilege of being grateful for: the beautiful music I make every day, my talented peers, my riveting professors, and the practice rooms that have the mirror lined up perfectly with the piano so I can actually see myself while I warm up. But there is something even simpler than all of these things that I think too often goes unnoticed and unappreciated among Conservatory students: the McGregor Skybar.

For those unfamiliar with this campus dining establishment, Skybar is the beautiful glass heaven of the Conservatory — DeCafé in the sky, if you will. Suspended magically between the Kohl Building and Conservatory Central Unit, it provides starving students with a quick, hot meal. Skybar has something for every student. Not only does it contain a DeCafé fridge replica stacked with sushi and salads, Skybar also carries breakfast sandwiches from the Rathskeller and hot Stevenson Dining Hall lunches.

I would like to stop and take a moment to highlight the supremacy of the Skybar Rathskeller sandwiches compared to the actual Rathskeller sandwiches. I have never waited in line for a breakfast sandwich at Skybar, unlike at the Rathskeller. And more importantly, the Skybar sandwiches are always hot, with the cheese adequately melted. Sure, the variety is a little limited, but I would take melted cheese over the cold slab that I would receive from the Rathskeller any day. Skybar also regularly has its breakfast sandwiches available until well after 10 a.m., which is when the Rathskeller closes. On a lucky day, I can still get a Beyond Sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel until 10:45 a.m. It’s truly a blessing.

Now that we got that out of the way, there are a plethora of other, more obvious reasons to be thankful for Skybar. First, have we really thought about how convenient it is to have a café in the Conservatory? Conservatory students are too often caught skipping lunch to practice instead, but with Skybar, it’s so easy to grab a quick meal and not have to worry about missing that practice session or being hungry during class. I can get my hot tea and breakfast sandwich and be in a Bibbins Hall classroom within minutes, energized for my day.

But sometimes, when I’m not in a rush to get to class, I get to enjoy my meal and do some work. I personally enjoy doing my homework in a more bustling environment, and Skybar is the perfect Azariah’s Café alternative for that more coffee-shop vibe. Of course, Azzie’s definitely has superior drinks, but as a tea drinker, I appreciate the tea selection offered at Skybar — Azzie’s just can’t compete in that department. There are also plenty of tables and individual seating, not to mention the complimentary view of the Conservatory buildings.

The windows are a benefit of their own — talk about natural lighting! And as I mentioned earlier, Skybar overlooks the Kohl Building, home of the Jazz department. On a warm day, you may be able to see Jazz students gathered in a circle playing Hacky Sack below or having a full-on jam session. It’s a people-watcher’s utopia.

For me, the best part of Skybar is the people. Whenever I venture up those three flights of stairs or take the elevator — let’s be honest, I rarely take the stairs — I am always greeted by a smiling face and a classmate or friend who I can sit and chat with. Skybar is an unrealized backbone of the Conservatory community. Sure, the sushi rice may not always be fresh, but having a space where we can relax, enjoy a meal, talk with friends, and get some work done is so important. And with that I say, thank you, Skybar.