Ban the boredom: Satsuma Cafe

Editor’s Note: May we Mayke a suggestion? No, our suggestion is not that we stop using cringeworthy puns, but it is to think ahead! We know what’s coming: the summer. The time when the air is heavy, the tourists have abandoned ship, and us locals are left to enjoy our city, heat and all. That’s where we come in! All the month of May we are going to prepare you to “Ban the Boredom” by giving you the best places, the best restaurants, and the best event, but since we never do anything “normal” at ViaNolaVie, we are basing these suggestions around various psychological states! If you’re a total introvert, we’ve got a spot for you! If you have a disability, we’ve got the places that actually don’t discriminate and let you get down the way you want to get down. We’ve got something for everyone because New Orleans is the city for everyone! Up next, we found a Gen-Z’s paradise, and it’s at Satsuma Cafe. 

The beautiful, brightly-lit aesthetic of Satsuma Cafe on Maple.

On the corner of Maple and Fern Street, a grey and orange café called Satsuma sits at 7901 Maple Street. A line of people floods the doorway, while others relax and fill the yellow and blue-painted metal square tables and corresponding chairs that anchor the entire perimeter of the building. The inside walls are consumed with muted pastels and tapestries that picture nothing but an explosion of color, just as Satsuma is an explosion of generational desires. Specifically, the Gen-Zers.

I open the rustic doors to Satsuma and get on the long, but fast-moving line to order, which the Gen-Z population has learned to prefer. Rule number one to be a Gen-Zer is to make everything fast or get rid of it. While Millennials and older generations are used to a more “chill” restaurant experience, the Gen-Z population expects swiftness in every facet of their lives; they are notorious for their impatience, so Satsuma’s average line time of 10 minutes and average order time of 15 minutes ironically serves this impatience in the laid-back city of New Orleans. Although the food comes out within 15 minutes, a meal at Satsuma can be an hour and a half long. Satsuma is filled with naturally stained wooden chairs and bright, almost marble-like, white tables that align with the tastes of the Gen-Z population, who tend to prefer softened colors. “The Ultimate Gen-Z Design Guide” says that Gen-Zers like mint greens and blush pinks which scatter the walls of Satsuma. Their dishes are a simple, pearly white that differ from the typical “fancy” materials found at other cafes or restaurants. Pristine utensils provide customers with ease regarding cleanliness, but also create a casual setting that allows for individuals to show up in pajamas if they please; it is a conventional meal, but patrons do not feel like they are at a five-star restaurant…in a good way.

 

Gen-Zers are very fond of mindfulness and relaxation. Rule number two to be a Gen-Zer: live a rapid life, so that we can always be “chill”. Since the Satsuma cashier knows 8 out of every 10 customers that walks through his doors, the Gen-Zers can feel a genuine connection to the staff and an overwhelming feeling of serenity when in Satsuma. Recognition goes hand in hand with familiarity. It is interesting that new things spark anxiety, while things seen before ease the mind. “Familiarity Does Indeed Promote Attraction in Live Interaction” is an article written by Harry T. Reis that explains how humans tend to be pulled towards an idea or place that they have seen before. Gen-Zers are known for their overwhelming dependability on those around them and their reliance on what they have become accustomed to. While Gen-Zers are proud of their individuality and ability to conquer the world, they were also brought up in a way that has made them expect constant comfort. My parents always say, “this never would have happened back in the day,” but it is true. The article demonstrates how “increasing familiarity in interactive relationships is a considerably more complex process, involving responsive interaction and affective experience, as well as other forms of interpersonal influence.” When we go to a restaurant that we love, it is more likely than not that we order our favorite dish to avoid the anxiety of picking a new one. The human brain, especially those of Gen-Zers, fixates on the moments when it feels calm and comfortable. Sitting at the white-painted wooden booth on a Saturday morning at Satsuma is that feeling of comfortability. Humans generate anxious tendencies, both good and bad, when meeting a new person, showing up at a new job interview, or even taking an exam in a class that they have never taken before. We prefer to be comfortable; we prefer to feel safe. Whether it is the unknown of what a new person will be like, or whether or not a new restaurant’s avocado toast will be up to par, we get nervous. Satsuma removes all anxiety of the unknown since many of its customers are regulars. Its basic, but perfectly executed menu attracts anyone that lays eyes on it, especially Gen-Zers.

A different article titled “Familiarly Breeds Completeness,” written by Edi Karni, discusses the concept of familiarity in a business setting. He explains how it is more probable that investors will invest in a company that promotes an idea that they have seen before, rather than taking a risk. We cannot help ourselves but get frightened and overwhelmed with anxiety when trying something new and stepping into a state of pure vulnerability. My dad constantly says that I am not prepared for the real world or the workforce, and it is because of this. Gen-Zers, like myself, fear interviews and new behaviors because of the social norms we grew up around. It can be something so minuscule, like choosing a café other than Satsuma, but it still sparks unease. Whether it is the impatience of the Gen-Z population, or Gen-Zers incapability to push themselves a little, Satsuma provides comfort for all, especially social media obsessed teenagers who Instagram a meal at Satsuma whenever they get the chance.

The simple, yet delicious Gen-Z tailored food.

When a customer orders, they show their “vax card,” they are handed a number, which leads them to the corner where they pick up their choice of condiment, mine tends to be the Cholula hot sauce, and they take a seat at an open table. An article titled “The ABCs of Gen X, Y(P), Z: A column for Young Professionals: Dealing With Millennial Parents,” written by Courtney Crappell, explains the concept of the value of happiness to a Millennial or Gen-Zer. Crapell mentions that Gen-Zers’ and Millennials’ priorities lie in their happiness. She claims that “this trend gives me hope for the future.” Pure optimism has been hard to find in the past, but that is what lays at the heart of the Gen-Z population. They focus on themselves and what will benefit them individually, and ultimately society in its entirety. Satsuma’s abstract and colorful décor, both small, individual, or large, group tables, and their option of either champagne or green juice represents the independence and self-pride in the Gen-Z world so perfectly.

Gen-Z rule number three: we are special, so everything we do and everywhere we go must feel special as well. Satsuma’s menu is very different from anywhere else in New Orleans. From avocado toast and salads to your classic bacon, egg, and cheese—everything is homemade and fresh. Gen-Zers have fixated on eating whole foods and foods that fuel their bodies. There has been a shift to a more plant-based diet for many. After several documentaries have been released that show the harm in consuming meat, Gen-Zers who prioritize wellness have strayed away from eating cheeseburgers and closer to eating veggie burgers. While Satsuma has a decent amount of meat and cheese, 33% of the menu includes meat and 67% of the menu appeals to vegetarians, every item is still homemade and nourishing which is most important to Gen-Zers.

Satsuma is a place where the phone always eats first, which is why Gen-Zers can almost always be found sitting at the circle tables indulging in a matcha latte with oat milk, but obviously taking a photo first.

 

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