Judging Java: The Row House Cinema

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Coffee Columnist

4.5 Globes

This past Saturday, I did something incredibly pleasant. I hopped in a Lyft over to Lawrenceville and went to the Row House Theater for an early morning screening of Wes Anderson’s breakout film, “Rushmore.” What was special about this screening was that they had complimentary donuts and coffee from Oliver’s Donuts, a donut shop in Lawrenceville right by the Row House that is currently going through a soft launch opening.

Now, right off the bat, I love the Row House. It’s one of the best, if not the best, movie theaters in the area. They show older movies, and have rotating weekly themes, and this week is Wes Fest, a week dedicated to Wes Anderson. Something that I love about the Row House is the sense of community attending a screening there brings. You’re always going to have an audience of passionate fans, and it’s overall a very welcoming and pleasant experience. I attended this screening by myself, and everyone there was incredibly friendly and conversational, which just added to the overall pleasantness of the experience.

The coffee served was great, and while ironically I don’t really have much to add about it (it was more or less a standard cup of coffee, a great standard cup of coffee, but a standard cup of coffee nevertheless) I must say that watching Max Fischer come of age while enjoying a nice cup of java warmed my heart and comforted my soul.

The donut was fantastic. It was one of the best donuts that I’ve ever had (it’s not the best, however, that honor goes to Mamie’s Cafe and Bakery in Martinsburg). Whoever Oliver is, he understands something that many donut shops, most notably a well-known chain that I hate with every fiber of my being and referred to in this column as “the reason America is so terrible,” do not. Oliver understands that donuts are supposed to taste good.

That sounds really stupid, I know. But think about it—is the CEO of Dunkin’ Donuts [his name is David Hoffman, but I am going to refer to him as Mr. Dunkin’ Donuts because A) I think that is funnier and B) I do not want anyone to be confused because Mr. Dunkin’ Donuts shares a name with David Hoffman the actor, who is most well known as playing Doug, opposite the Limu Emu, in the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercials] concerned with the taste of the donuts? Probably not. Mr. Dunkin’ Donuts has a net worth of over $9 million. If Mr. Dunkin’ Donuts wants a donut, he’s probably going to have it dipped in gold. I don’t actually know how money works, and my concept of wealth and economics has been shaped by the internet, but I do not think someone worth over $9 million is getting the Charli D’amelio meal.

What I’m trying to say is that Dunkin’ Donuts is a major corporation owned by an even larger conglomerate that also owns Arby’s. I like Arby’s, but would you really trust the people who own Arby’s to make a donut? Oliver, on the other hand, is a local small business with an emphasis on their donuts tasting good. Likewise, their coffee tastes good, because they care about quality.

It all goes back to the reason I love the Row House so much—the sense of community. Major corporations have mass commercialized everything we love and hold sacred. Whether it’s AMC Theaters oversaturating the cinema market by opening too many subpar locations and potentially leading to the collapse of the entire movie theater industry, or it’s Dunkin’ Donuts serving millions of mockeries of what donuts can be a day, these companies take the things we love and suck the soul out of them, leaving them a depressing shell of what they can be. But every once in a while, there’s a place like the Row House, or a place like Oliver’s Donuts, that reminds you of the joys of the things that we love. And sometimes those places team up to deliver a magical and unforgettable Saturday morning in Lawrenceville.