Students eagerly anticipate the opening of a full-service Starbucks Café at the University of Connecticut’s Waterbury campus next fall.
Previously, students at the Waterbury branch did not have the ability to dine at the kind of university-run cafes or dining halls that are present at the Storrs campus.
“The only option for food as part of the university was through the old co-op so that was really their only access for food,” Director of Dining Services, Dennis Pierce said.
“We have some pizza places and Chinese food (near the campus),” the Director of the Waterbury campus William Pizzuto said, “We only had a kind of stand-up Dunkin Donuts a few blocks from the campus, but you can’t even really sit there.”
Dining Services went through a bidding process to bring a coffee shop into the space for students and ultimately awarded the bid to Starbucks.
“This was a great idea and homerun for us to have someone with Starbucks quality there run by UConn,” Pizzuto said.
The Starbucks at the Waterbury branch will operate as a fully-licensed Starbucks.
“It’s going to be like any Starbucks you walk into, it’s going to be a full-service Starbucks,” Pierce said.
The University will pay for the furniture, fixture and equipment costs for the opening of the café,
“That’s typical in what we’ve done in any of our locations,” Pierce said.
Starbucks was motivated to make their bid based on the presumption that the location, next to the Palace Theatre in downtown Waterbury, would be a prosperous one, Pierce said.
“We were fortunate because this is a good area, you’re going to get a lot of business in that location,” Pierce continued, “Starbucks being who they are and what they are, they do a lot a research as far as location and if it will be viable, they won’t sell you a license to operate a store unless it’s a viable location.”
Pizzuto said the Waterbury community is also looking forward to the opening.
“It’s a complement to the area too that not just UConn students can take advantage of it, but patrons of the theatre and lawyers and doctors and other people downtown,” Pizzuto said.
The baristas and other workers employed at the new Starbucks will be Dining Service employees, Pierce said.
Dining Services is excited to begin this endeavor of working with a large national food service chain, Pierce said.
“We’re eager, this is the first foray for us into working with a national chain of that size,” Pierce said.
At this time, Dining Services does not have any plans to open similar establishments at other branches, Pierce said.
Pizzuto said students are eagerly anticipating the opening of the café,
“They’re very excited about it, every day they ask when it’s going to open,” Pizzuto said, “They’re chomping at the bit, talking about macchiatos and terms I don’t understand.”
The university recently worked with the Waterbury Development Corporation to convert a nearby rectory building into additional classroom spaces with funding from the state and the city of Waterbury.
“We could use additional classroom space, which was the impetus for us taking it (the building) on,” Pizzuto said.
The new building has added six classrooms and a large meeting room to the campus.
The building was in a dilapidated state when the university first began leasing it
“It was in very poor shape, they then turned it around,” Pierce said. “The renovation is gorgeous.”
Pizzuto said he is glad the university has been able to work collaboratively with local entities on the project.
“It’s nice to be involved in projects that are so positive, collaborating between the city and state and UConn,” Pizzuto said.