The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

MUN team secures sixth consecutive win at Northwestern conference
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Subway smiles: Sajal Patel

Community idol spreads inspiration and positivity
Daniel Baeza
SPREADING SMILES. Sajal Patel, owner of the Subway on 59th Street, is always eager to put a smile on new and returning customers. She converses with a customer asking about their personal life while making their sandwiches, bringing a smile on their face.

Students mill around the green-and-yellow environment waiting in line for their sandwiches to be made. This is a daily sight for dozens of students attending U-High and the university as they visit the Subway on East 57th Street for lunch.

A woman is quick to greet everyone who walks into the store with a friendly smile and a wave. While she makes a student’s sandwich, she asks questions about their lives, families and other details, creating bonds that grow over time. She has a constant smile and is a source of positivity for any students who enter into her subway. 

This Subway is visited and cherished by many UChicago and Lab students as well numerous Hyde Park families. This Subway is owned by Sajal Patel. Ms. Patel has owned the Subway for 20 years, interacting with thousands of students, creating and cherishing memories throughout the years. 

“I think she is a really nice and friendly person. Whenever my friends and I come to the Subway, whether it be weekdays or weekends, she is really nice to us,” said sophomore Aarna Arora.

Ms. Patel is also the mother of a senior son at Northwestern, allowing her to connect with students as she understands what they are going through in life and with school. She feels that having a son of her own allows her to develop a connection with them that many adults would not be able to create. 

“When the students come in, you know, you just talk to them. It’s just really nice, because you see most of the same faces for a long time. And you just develop a connection with them,” Ms. Patel said. 

Ms. Patel moved to the United States 34 years ago after living in London for many years. She worked in corporate work then moved to owning a Subway as she wanted to spend more time with her son. It allowed her to spend more time with her son due to the flexible hours it provided. Even though she owns the business, she still works very hard to provide the best experience for all the customers that visit her. 

“When I had my son I just felt like I needed to spend more time with him, and owning my own business just made that easier,” Ms. Patel said.

Ms. Patel feels that education is the most important skill needed to succeed in life, and she tries to instill that idea in the students that she interacts with.

“At least finish school, somehow if you can finish college and then follow what your interests are, there are so many opportunities,” Ms. Patel said.

While owning a business does offer freedoms such as flexible hours, Ms. Patel spends countless hours working to make the Subway a better place for her employees, and patrons through many things, such as a recent remodel of the store to having special items on the menu such as churros.

“Even though I’m a business owner, I work very hard, which is important, and I love what I do,” Ms. Patel said. “I love being around kids, and I love being on campus. It’s just a nice place to be.”

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About the Contributors
Kabir Joshi
Kabir Joshi, Assistant Editor
Kabir Joshi is a member of the Class of 2026 and is an assistant editor. As a ninth grader, he joined the U-High Midway during the 2022-23 school year. His favorite story that he has written is "Movie differentiates itself from others." Outside of the Midway, he runs cross country and loves spending time with his dog. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Excellent, review writing
Daniel Baeza
Daniel Baeza, Photographer
Daniel Baeza is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2025. His favorite part of photojournalism is learning different photography methods. Danny thinks the most fulfilling part of photojournalism is capturing someone's emotions in one frame. Outside of photojournalism, Danny enjoys playing baseball, drawing and hanging out with friends. Awards: 2023 Association of Texas Photography Instructors Fall Contest, sports action, honorable mention 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Superior, general/spot news

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