Student-Run Café Slated to Open for Finals Week
If you’ve ever walked by Pi on a weeknight after 9 p.m. and felt an intense craving for a cup of coffee, or perched on the radiator outside Weshop with a bag of bagel chips after 12, longing for a table on which to do your homework, you’re in luck—and so is your wallet. A free student-run café in the Allbritton Center will be up and running hopefully in time for finals week, and officially by Orientation next year, thanks to funding from the building’s own namesake.
“Perhaps I have had one too many cups of coffee myself as I have concluded that it would be in the best interest of Wesleyan to donate $8,350 for the equipment you need to create a student run café,” Robert Allbritton ’92, Wesleyan trustee and creator of journalism organization The Politico, wrote in a letter to the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA).
The $8,350 Allbritton is donating will fund all machinery—including a coffee brewer and an espresso machine—installation costs, and the removal of vending machines currently located in the café space, as well as a student worker’s salary for the first semester if there are enough funds left over. The start-up costs of the café, including supplies like coffee beans, tea bags, and milk, will be funded by the WSA Student Budget Committee until they can be reimbursed by student donations via meal points, cash, or Middletown Cash.
The café, which WSA representative Micah Feiring ’11 has been working for the past year to set up, will be tentatively open Sunday through Wednesday from 9:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., when Pi Café is closed, and will be managed by a work-study student, whose future salary will be funded by student donations, according to Feiring. It will serve coffee and tea and will host student events like poetry readings and open mike nights.
“As long as some students honor the donation we should be more than able to cover our costs,” Feiring said. “Coffee beans are cheap and half of the work-study salaries are picked up by the federal government.”
Allbritton contacted Feiring about funding the café after reading an Argus article about the plans. Feiring submitted a proposal for Allbritton to review in March and Allbritton approved all costs on April 5.
“At Wesleyan . . . students excel at creating improvised venues for their diverse intellectual and artistic pursuits,” he wrote. “My hope is that this new café—tying together matters of the mind, performance arts, social mingling, and the consumption of free caffeinated beverages—will amplify that spirit of improvisation, and instill it with new interdisciplinary possibilities.”
With two weeks left before the café’s scheduled “soft-opening” on May 2, Feiring said that the only issues left to wrap up are installing the coffee machines—which were purchased wholesale and are being shipped from California—with the help of Physical Plant, and to find a name.
“There’s a great list that was generated by an ACB thread but, yes, we are still looking for that perfect name for the café,” he said.
Some of the suggestions on the thread Feiring referenced include “Politicafé,” “Espressonormative,” and “Undergrounds.”
“The cafe is going to be an awesome student space,” he said. “I only wish I had free coffee the entire time I was working on this project.”