Whether from the email survey this summer, or from the red and white sign across from the Tea Shop, you have probably caught wind of the new Mills cafe.
Dr. Joi D. Lewis, former Dean of Students, proposed the idea earlier this year, but students Phuong Tseng and Carolina Levy Castro quickly took responsibility for making the Mills cafe a reality. They designed the email survey sent out this summer and used the 600 responses to develop a model for the new student-run cafe, which will be located across from the Tea Shop.
“People don’t have anywhere to go after 9 p.m. because the Tea Shop closes, but the library is open until midnight,” Levy said. “People in the survey responded that they would like a space to go.”
Hours for the new cafe will be 8 a.m.- 12 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m.- 12 a.m. on weekends. This schedule allows students to drop by anytime, whether for a quick bite after crew practice or for a late night coffee after cramming for a biochemistry quiz.
But the new cafe will be more than just a place to grab a snack.
“The goal is to have a more vibrant campus, to provide a place where students can gather,” said Dean of Students Eloise Stiglitz, who oversees the development of the cafe.
While the hiring process is still being discussed, the cafe will be entirely student-run with managerial positions and leadership opportunities available.
“The new cafe will be a multilayered opportunity for students,” Stiglitz said.
Tseng and Levy hope that the cafe will be a comfortable place for students to meet friends, study, hold events and hang out.
“We want to make the campus more lively,” Tseng said. “It’s one of the most important aspects of why we are doing this”.
According to Tseng, the cafe
might also host student displays and performances.
“We’re hoping that we can use it as a space for students to exhibit their art,” Tseng said.
Although it overlooks the Tea Shop, the Mills cafe will offer a very different dining experience than traditional on-campus options. According to Tseng and Levy, the developing menu is primarily based on responses from the student survey. The food and beverages featured on the menu will be supplied by a medley of local bakeries and coffeehouses.
Food at the cafe will be offered as part of the student meal plan.
“We’re trying to be more community oriented and make things more local because that’s what students are asking for,” Tseng said.
One supplier Tseng and Levy hope to partner with is Numi Tea, a Fair Trade tea company founded in Oakland. In addition to an intricate selection of tea, the cafe will carry a spectrum of coffee.
“We are going to provide Peet’s Coffee in bulk, but if you want a more delicate coffee we are also planning to contact local roasters like Blue Bottle and Sweet Maria’s that only sell organic, fair-trade coffee,” Levy said.
Although the cafe will not officially open until Spring 2014, Tseng and Levy are planning pop-up events where the cafe will be temporarily open to students. These events will familiarize the community with the space and provide an opportunity to sample items from the upcoming menu.
For the first event, which will be held in early October, Tseng and Levy are considering a “wine tasting night.”
“People can come in and try some wine and maybe buy a [glass], and drink that in the cafe,” Tseng said. “While you’re doing that we might have music, a performance or some poetry.”
Although the cafe currently boasts a “Café Suzie” sign, Tseng and Levy hope that the student body will create its own name and logo for the cafe.
“It needs to have its own personality,” Levy said. Tsen and Levy are currently accepting student submissions for the cafe’s permanent name.
For more information or to submit a name for the new cafe,
contact Phuong Tseng at firstname.lastname@example.org or Carolina Levy at email@example.com.