"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Campus Gas bridges the gap between campus and community

Owned and operated by Wake Forest alumni, Campus Gas serves the community and provides a place for all to gather
Campus+Gas%E2%80%99s+relationship+with+the+Wake+Forest+community+has+been+deeply+rooted+since+its+founding+but+has+increased+as+it+hired+over+thirty+students+throughout+the+years+and+often+hosts+events+for+different+departments+and+school-sponsored+functions.
Virginia Noone
“Campus Gas’s relationship with the Wake Forest community has been deeply rooted since its founding but has increased as it hired over thirty students throughout the years and often hosts events for different departments and school-sponsored functions.”

When Ben Ingold, John Clowney and Will Volker met in Bostwick Residence Hall as freshmen in 2001, Campus Gas & Service was a vintage, bat-winged gas station where cars had stopped for small groceries and fuel since the late 1960s.

Located on 1231 Polo Road, nestled in between North Campus and the historic Oak Crest neighborhood lies a vintage gas station where professors, locals and students gather daily. They no longer fill up their cars — since its renovation in 2018, they fill up on local draft beers and french fries at Campus Gas.

“We thought that Wake Forest needed a place like Campus Gas when we were in school,” Ingold said. “We thought that, if we were able to provide something like that, it would just be like a real positive thing for the students and all of the Wake Forest community.”

Campus Gas has accomplished just that, drawing students and faculty in with their large menu of reasonably priced drinks, classic food and casual atmosphere. It is the closest bar within walking distance of the campus, which makes visiting convenient.

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“We will come in between classes sometimes — whether that’s right or wrong — or after a long day of classes,” master’s student and recent undergraduate alumna Mary Martha Milcoff said. “Obviously it’s a great place to chill with everyone, but the location and atmosphere is primarily what makes it different.”

“Campus Gas & Service was a vintage, bat-winged gas station where cars had stopped for small groceries and fuel since the late 1960s.” (Virginia Noone)

It’s not only students who enjoy the proximity and environment of Campus Gas. Many professors come to do work or unwind after a long day. Psychology professor Heath Greene notes that Campus Gas’ reliable Wi-Fi and socialness are major reasons he continues to go there.

“I think it’s a great place to build community,” he said. “A lot of times I’ll meet either other professors or students here to just hang out and talk.”

Since the Oak Crest area is a historic neighborhood, and the building itself is on the National Register of Historic Places, the founders worked with the neighborhood to rezone and collaborate to satisfy rules and restrictions that ensured the community was respected. Some of these restrictions include hours of operation and no live music on a regular basis.

“We try really hard to make sure that our parking lot and our grounds and everything is kept very clean and landscaped really well since we’re in the middle of a neighborhood,” manager Meg Jones-Kelly says. “It’s those … things that are important to the aesthetic of the place as a whole.” 

The restaurant opened just 13 months before COVID-19 shut down most restaurants, forcing Campus Gas to adapt and serve the community’s needs. They were able to sell supplies, such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer, to nearby residents when it was scarce elsewhere. This temporary pivot only strengthened the relationship with the neighborhood.

Campus Gas’s relationship with the Wake Forest community has been deeply rooted since its founding but has increased as it hired over thirty students throughout the years and often hosts events for different departments and school-sponsored functions.

“Campus Gas offers everything a college student could need, from coffee to fried food or a beer.” (Virginia Noone)

Senior Wilson Tibbits has been working at Campus Gas since the beginning of this semester.

“I think one of the fun things that I’ve learned is you can really make friends with just about anybody,” he said. “Now I have friends who are 35-year-old Winston-Salem natives, and I never really thought that would be my experience at Wake [Forest] because it’s pretty isolated from the rest of Winston-Salem.” 

Campus Gas offers drink specials and events every day of the week. On Tuesdays there is an open-mic comedy night at 8 p.m., and trivia begins at 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday. On Sundays, they offer $20 mimosa pitchers, and on Thursdays, they offer $4 cocktails, among many other deals that make Campus Gas very affordable.

Despite this affordability, though, students often neglect to leave a tip. In North Carolina, tipped employees are only paid $2.13 an hour with an expectation that they will be tipped. According to Jones-Kelly, roughly 12% of customers — of which Wake Forest students are the majority — tip at Campus Gas. 

“Students should be tipping a bartender making $3,” Tibbits said, “even if it’s not one of your friends and especially when you’re paying with a card that’s not yours.”

Campus Gas offers everything a college student could need, from coffee to fried food or a beer. Its location is historic and convenient, the service is fast and friendly and the events are open to anyone in need of a good time.

“Everybody likes to have a beverage every now and then, and it’s a social place [that] brings the community together where people meet each other,” Ingold said. “And man, what more can you really want? … Whoever wants to come, doors are open — we’ve got a seat for you.”

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About the Contributor
Virginia Noone, Opinon Editor
Virginia is a junior from Bridgeport, W.Va.  majoring in critical and creative media with a film concentration and minoring in English and journalism. Outside of the OGB, she is the prose editor of the 3-4 Ounces literary magazine and a writer for The Magnolia. In her free time, you can find her watercolor painting, reading and going on long walks.

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