As school began this fall, Sodexo opened a new coffee shop in the Robinson Science Hall, offering different options to students and faculty. Looking for a “destination venue,” a place students would go for specific items, Jim O’Brien, general manager for Sodexo, said the key to success in the new coffee shop was to offer Starbucks Coffee which is found nowhere else on campus.
With Coeur d’Alene’s Doma coffee used in the coffee shop in the Hixson Union Building and Aspretto coffee in the dining hall, Sodexo collaborated with Whitworth in choosing a new coffee brand for the new coffee shop.
At the end of last year a discussion was held between Sodexo and Whitworth during the annual review to decide what customers would want from the new coffee shop.
It was decided that in order to increase sales and not just spread out costs, Whitworth and Sodexo needed to make it different from the coffee available in the HUB dining hall and HUB coffee shop, O’Brien said on the decision to supply Starbucks coffee.
With three different brands now offered on campus, junior and self-proclaimed coffee addict Stephanie Barrong couldn’t be happier with the new option.
“Every morning I go,” Barrong said, laughing as she sipped her Starbucks latte. “My prayers were definitely answered.”
Like any new business brought to campus, the new coffee shop is another opportunity for students looking for jobs on campus, offering positions as baristas.
“It doesn’t matter if they have work study or not,” O’Brien said. “If they are qualified workers we will hire anyone.”
Janel Starkey manages the new coffee shop, working for her mother, Cheryl Downie, who runs all of the Sodexo retail at Whitworth.
“It’s a mini version of the coffee shop in the HUB,” Starkey said.
She also said although the coffee shop still is smaller it offers the wide variety of drinks and novelty goods offered in the larger coffee shop in the HUB.
Though the first couple days open were slow, the coffee shop has really picked up with the busiest times being between classes and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Starkey said.
“We opened thinking the hours would be 8 to 2,” Starkey said, “But right now we are usually open at 7:30 so people can get their coffee before their 8 o’clock classes.”
Customers express great gratitude to her as she provides their caffeine fix, an advantage Starkey said she enjoys while working there.
“I love coffee; I love making it, and I truly enjoy meeting all the new people,” Starkey said. “Everyone is so nice.”
Currently the top sellers at the coffee shop are pumpkin lattes, followed closely by the white chocolate mochas. When it comes to the food, the freshly baked raspberry scones tend to sell out first, Starkey said.
“Our baker, Marsha, actually comes in at midnight and bakes for eight hours so we are able to provide customers freshly baked goods everyday,” Starkey said.
Other food choices provided at the coffee shop include salads, breads, muffins, brownies and vegetable and fruit cups.
“We sell out daily,” Starkey said. “For students and faculty who want to avoid the busyness of the HUB, we are more convenient for them.”
The coffee shop in the Robinson Science Hall is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is closed on weekends.
Story by Sydney Conner