Photo by Hannah Linkowsky
This past Friday, March 3, West Chester coffee enthusiasts flocked downtown for the grand opening of High Street’s newest cafe, Mayday. Founded by Austin Piona, originally from Philadelphia, the shop was conceived as a place for patrons to unwind, socialize and enjoy something delicious. Piona is in particular a proponent of mental health — in fact, his business name stems from the French “m’aider,” or “to help me,” according to its website. He hopes that his cafe will become a safe haven for locals to destress individually as well as gather together as a community.
Customers can expect a bright, energetic environment and friendly, personable staff from the establishment; at least, that was the overall impression I got when I visited on launch day. The cafe was already filled with guests of all ages studying, chatting and sipping handcrafted drinks. The sense of fellowship here is truly undeniable, and I couldn’t help my mood immediately lifting as I went inside.
Converted from a building with over a century and a half of history, the physical ambience of Mayday is reminiscent of sunny Los Angeles, colored in vibrant pastels and illuminated by a wall of windows. Piona says the vibe is indeed inspired by California, where he has spent the last several years. The shop is decorated with numerous plants — including bouquets of fresh cut flowers for sale, — a variety of chic and comfortable seating across two rooms and an Instagram-worthy neon sign suggesting that “maybe coffee is addicted to me.” Aside from beverages and food items, Mayday also sells merchandise in the form of candles, apparel, books and pottery.
It is obvious that attention to detail is of paramount importance to Mayday. From the gold cutlery to the impeccable latte art and logoed to-go cups, it’s clear that no part of the customer experience has been overlooked. I have found that this level of care and precision is the trademark of the small businesses that populate downtown West Chester, and one of the reasons I would choose to support an independently owned cafe over a chain any day.
That being said, I have worked as a corporate barista for two years and consider myself quite the coffee connoisseur, so of course I had to try out Mayday’s product for myself to see how it measures up to the Borough’s other hallmark cafes. The menu, short but unique, lists options such as a lavender honey black tea latte, fresh mint iced coffee, avocado toast, acai bowls and more. I am hoping the staff continues to expand the available flavors as the business grows.
I ended up choosing an iced salted caramel latte and almond croissant, both of which I would reorder in a heartbeat. The latte was the perfect balance of sweet syrup and mellow espresso, and though I intended to savor it, my cup was empty in a matter of moments. The croissant, a favorite pastry of mine, was flaky and melted in my mouth. I have a strong feeling that Mayday is soon to become my new favorite spot to study and relax.
Hannah Linkowsky is a second-year Early Grades Prep major in the Honors College with minors in Spanish, Dance Performance, and Civic + Professional Leadership. HL977843@wcupa.edu.