Since moving to a new location in the Thomas J. Meskill Law Library this semester, the Campus Center Café at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, has seen a threefold increase in sales.
The café has had a 261 percent increase in sales since opening this semester. In September 2016 the café served 1,050 customers and this September they served 3,790, Dining Services Retail Operations Manager Ethan Haggerty said.
“It was substantially busier than we expected, so we had to bring food out much more frequently than expected, which is a great problem to have,” Haggerty stated.
Given that there are only approximately 400 students at the law school campus, Haggerty said he is pleased the café has been able to serve so many students.
“We’re providing service to a large proportion of the campus,” Haggerty said. “It’s always nice to feel valued.”
The menu at the Campus Center Café is a blend between those of the Benton and Wilbur’s cafes, Haggerty said. It serves items such as bread boules and artisan sandwiches and grilled cheeses.
“We try to go with the best selection cross utilizing stuff from the Beanery and Wilbur’s menus,” Haggerty said.
Haggerty explained that the manager of the law school café runs occasional specials to offer more variety than what Dining Services routinely provides.
“She tries to fill those gaps in our menu where, there are not a lot of requests, but she wants to do what she can for everybody,” Haggerty said.
The café’s lounge seating is based on the design of the Beanery.
“We saw how popular (the Beanery) was here and how the students (are) just generally really attracted to it,” Haggerty said. “Even when they aren’t eating or drinking coffee they like hanging out there, and that’s the goal of these kind of places.”
The café has also extended its hours from being open from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. last semester to staying open until 6:30 p.m. in order to better accommodate students who have evening classes, Haggerty said.
Haggerty stated that they are also employing more UConn students in order to compensate for the longer hours and that fact that the café is significantly busier in the new location than it was in the old one.
The law school’s café moved into the library this semester following renovations to the space. The café had previously been located in the basement of the Hosmer Building, Haggerty said.
“It was an older building, not the most attractive. (But) it still gave the (students) out there the option of getting food on campus,” Haggerty said.
After experiencing difficulties with outside vendors supplying the café, the Law School reached out to dining services about taking over the operation of the café a few years ago, Haggerty said.
“A wide variety of complaints…brought us to the table to provide a more consistent level of service,” Haggerty said.
There is not a lot of prep space in the new location and storage is still in the Hosmer Building, therefore most of the food served at the café is prepared in Storrs and delivered daily, Haggerty said.
“It’s a pretty wide menu for a really small location with not a lot of backspace for us to work with and it can be a challenge when you have storage issues,” Haggerty said. “We try to keep it easy on the staff so they can load the café once in the morning and be stocked for the day.”
Haggerty said that, when he spoke with students at the law school, they all seemed generally pleased with the new café.
“There (were) no real complaints, no real desire to add anything else to the menu, which is great it means we covered all of our bases,” Haggerty said.
Haggerty explained that Dining Services will do a survey at the end of the semester to assess student satisfaction with the café and to determine if they need to alter the hours of operation.
“We’re riding it out to the end of the semester with the menu we have, making sure everybody’s happy,” Haggerty said.
Anna Zarra Aldrich is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @ZarraAnna.