Over the spring recess, President Michael Roth ’78 announced the University’s upcoming partnership with grown, a Miami-based organic food company, to establish and operate a café in the new University bookstore. Run by R.J. Julia, the store will be a twelve thousand square-foot, two-story building located at 413 Main Street. Roth believes the grown café will be an exciting new addition to the project.

“We’re delighted to partner with grown in this exciting new venture. Their commitment to wholesome food and sustainable practices are a perfect fit for Wesleyan,” said Roth in a brief issued by the University. “We think the addition of this healthy option on Main Street is a great thing for the people of Middletown.”

The University hopes that the bookstore will foster a sense of cohesion between the University and the local community. The choice to partner with grown reflects this interest, as the company has strong ties to both Middletown and greater Connecticut; its owners are Shannon Allen, a Middletown native, and former NBA All-Star Ray Allen, a distinguished UConn alumnus.

“As a Middletown native, and Connecticut residents, we are thrilled to partner with Wesleyan University as the new cafe in the Wesleyan R.J. Julia Bookstore,” said Shannon Allen. “We are collectively committed to sustainability beyond the kitchen, practicing permaculture and allergen awareness in a stunning holistic environment for students, faculty and the greater Middlesex County community. This new operation is distinctly aligned with our mission to change the world one USDA organic certified meal at a time. We are grateful for the opportunity and ecstatic to bring grown home.”

Community leaders have responded ecstatically to both the bookstore and its new partner. Larry McHugh, president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce lauded both the husband and wife, noting that his office awarded Mr. Allen with their Role Model Award in 2007.

Mayor Dan Drew shared in McHugh’s pleasure.

“This is one more exciting and important business that will add tremendously to the vibrancy of Main Street and our business community. We thank them for choosing to grow here and we look forward to the success and vibrancy they’ll bring,” said Drew.

Students and residents don’t have long to wait before they will be able to enjoy meals, smoothies, juices, and other goods at the new café, which, along with the bookstore, is slated to open before the end of May.

Erin can be reached at ehussey@wesleyan.edu and on Twitter as @e_riss. 



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