Several changes are in store for Elizabethtown College’s dining facilities.
There are three major components. The Blue Bean Café will close and a café will be built inside the High Library. Then, the Blue Bean’s current location will be converted into a different dining facility. Finally, the Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Wellness will feature a dining facility when it opens.
These changes will be implemented over the next two years. This semester, Dining Services and the College community will brainstorm a new purpose for the Blue Bean’s current location.
The library café is slated to open in the fall of 2018, at which point the Blue Bean will be closed.
The whole process would be complete in the fall of 2019 with the opening of a smoothie bar in the Bowers Center for Sports, Fitness and Wellness and the new facility in the Blue Bean’s location.
The plans were announced in an email sent to the campus community that included a survey.
“We may not have the right ideas for how to change things yet, but someone out in the campus community might,” Dining Services Director Eric Turzai said.
The survey asked participants what facilities they would like to see where, how often they would visit each location and how much they would be willing to pay for different items offered. Options for the Blue Bean’s location ranged from an ice cream parlor to an Asian noodle bar.
Many of the questions concerned the new library café, which, according to Turzai, may be different from the Blue Bean in terms of what it offers.
Potential prices for drinks in the new café ranged from $1.50 to $4.50. In terms of food, students were asked to rank which café items they would be most likely to buy, from scones and muffins to grab-and-go salads, sandwiches and snacks.
Over 600 students responded to the survey in two days. Turzai said he and the rest of the administrators involved really value the campus community’s opinions on this process.
“We’re going in the right direction, but we don’t want to go too far and realize it’s not what the campus wants,” Turzai said.
One question included options for a main brand of coffee to offer in the library café, including Starbucks. This struck a chord with sophomore Rachel Rhoads, who said she likes having a college-specific coffee shop that is not run by a major brand.
“There’s a Starbucks down the street in Giant,” she said. “You can’t get an Etown milkshake in Starbucks.”
Still, Rhoads said she would be in favor of remodeling the current Blue Bean and keeping its purpose as a coffee shop. She took the survey but said she did not see how some of the options for the Blue Bean’s current location would fit in with existing dining facilities.
“I don’t know what the point of another grab-and-go place would be because the Jay’s is 20 feet away,” she said.
On the other hand, sophomore Gabi Kraus said she doesn’t mind moving the café to the library as long as there is still one on campus somewhere.
“It would be nice to have a different place with even more variety,” she said.
The idea for the changes started when the College brought in outside consultants, who offered suggestions for how to enhance the campus.
Despite the BSC’s status as the hub at the center of campus, the consultants noticed non-central traffic patterns among students.
Also, Turzai said lots of colleges have a café or other dining facility in their libraries, and having one in Etown’s High Library could draw more students there and keep them there longer.
Barista Sharon Gainer is currently in her second year working at the Blue Bean.
She knows about the changes and will work in the library café once it opens.
Gainer said she likes everything about working in the Blue Bean, particularly getting to interact with students. Overall, she is not a big fan of the location change and predicted that a café in the library would not see as much business as one in the Blue Bean.
“A lot of students say they don’t use the library and that it’s out of the way compared to the BSC, which is more central to student traffic,” she said.
Sophomore Sierra Rosa visits the Blue Bean often and was shocked to learn about the changes, saying many of them are unnecessary.
She said that she would not want to pay many of the survey’s suggested prices and that spreading the dining facilities across campus would give her less of an incentive to use them.
“The BSC is a common place for everyone; why change it?” she said.
Participants have until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, to complete the survey. Students who include their email address in the survey will be entered to win $25 in JayBucks.