Lord Jeff Café to Open Soon at the Alumni Gymnasium
By Rishabh Parikh '12
The plan to open a café in the Alumni Gymnasium has finally come to fruition. Last semester, the Association of Amherst Students (AAS) debated and eventually approved an idea initially put forth by AAS senator Chris Anderson ’12 to install the Lord Jeff Café in the terrace that overlooks the gymnasium’s indoor tennis courts.

The café is set to open for business shortly after spring break, with an official opening date soon to be announced. Its expected hours of operation are 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays through Fridays and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays.

The café’s management team will consist of AAS senators who have been central to the project since its inception.

While the café will be entirely student-run, Anderson pointed out that “[the team has] received incredible support from Suzanne Coffey [Director of Athletics], Don Faulstick [Associate Athletic Director], Doris Naiman [Assistant Athletic Director — Finance] and Rosa Gomes [Dining Services Manager], and we will continue to consult them about major decisions.”

The café is going to be jointly funded by the AAS and the Department of Athletics, with the former having a 60 percent share ($3,000) and the latter having a 40 percent share ($2,000). The money that the AAS will invest will come from the Interim Student Life Fund.

In preparation for opening the café, Anderson and the other AAS senators involved with the project have their hands full. They have to coordinate the setup of AC card-swiping infrastructure, make sure that contracts with suppliers are settled and make hiring decisions.”

“We have received over 90 applications for about 16 spots, so the process will be quite competitive,” said Anderson.“We plan on hiring based upon demonstrated interest, prior experience and personality fit for the role. We aren’t taking any seniors since they won’t be here next year and we would need to retrain new people. It is going to be a difficult process given the high level of competition, but we should end up with an excellent group of student-workers,” Anderson said.

The café will initially only sell pre-made or pre-packaged products. Among the menu items are protein bars, nuts, yogurt, fresh fruit and healthy beverages.

As Anderson noted, “[The café] will be offering many different products to get a feel for what people want.” Depending on demand and the success of the café’s trial run, sandwiches, smoothies and other prepared items may be added to the menu in the future. In order to serve prepared foods, however, the café will need to obtain special health and safety certification from the government.

As far as pricing is concerned, items available at both the café and Schwemm’s Coffee House will have the same price. The student management team and College administrators will jointly price items uniquely available at the café. The café’s revenues will help cover the café’s running costs and will also be donated to the College.

The long-term future of the café will depend on the success of the café’s trial run, which will last for most of the second half of this semester and will extend into the fall term of the 2010-2011 school year.

If Anderson and the other members of the management team feel that the creation of the café was a worthwhile investment, then it may become a permanent addition to the Alumni Gymnasium. “We hope that students, faculty, staff and visitors will purchase products from the café,” said Anderson.

“This is a data-gathering period that will ultimately determine whether or not we open the café permanently. More than anything, we want suggestions from the college community. We will have a suggestion box at the café, and, of course, anyone is free to email me or [other] members of the café team with ideas.”

Anderson is very optimistic about the café’s future. “I am confident that the café will be successful,” he remarked. “The great thing about this project is that it is flexible: we have many options in terms of product offerings and hours of operation, so getting input is critical. Hopefully, the café will develop into a vibrant hub on campus.”

Issue 17, Submitted 2010-03-03 04:59:27