Spare Surroundings and Sweaty Students: Pitfalls of the ARC Café

It is not exactly old news by now that Residence Life is bringing the cafe experience of the Grind to North Campus (Waring Commons, the Townhouses and Lewis Quadrangle), first with a temporary cafe in the snack bar space of the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center (The ARC) adjacent to the weight room, followed by a permanent cafe along with our brand new stadium and academic buildings, still to come.

At first, I was excited by this news. I will admit that I can be a lazy person, especially when the weather turns sour, and the idea that I can grab a coffee right after my morning workout sounds nice. There is less travel in that, and once winter arrives, I will not have to battle the cold winds off the lake to get to the Grind. But then I asked myself, why do we need a new cafe at all? What about this fiscal crisis we keep hearing about around fundraising time? Is there a better, more fiscally sound way of bringing a cafe to North Campus?

Think about it. There is already a place for quick food on North Campus, and it is already beloved by most students who call that area home. I am, of course, referring to the Pub, located on the side of Lewis Quadrangle facing the Townhouse Crescents. While this establishment is mostly known for its nachos and new pizza oven, it also serves up snacks and breakfast fare when it functions as the Grab ‘n Go from 7:30am to 2pm. They already have coffee capabilities, something that is not heavily advertised. There is a coffee machine right by the Grab ‘n Go area to the right of the main ordering counter, which I’ve only ever seen a handful of students order from.

Best of all, the Pub has an atmosphere in which I can sit down, enjoy my food and watch whatever is on the television. Where can I relax in the ARC? I do not want to drink a nice cup of espresso next to the weight room, watching classmates sweat and flex. The ARC is also often humid because of the pool, which makes the idea of getting a hot beverage more than a little sickening.  

The ARC cafe is set to open soon, though no specific date has been set. All there is in its designated spot now is a few coffee machines and two fridges, along with a small side counter for milk and sugar. However, not that much has changed in the past few weeks, and there is no sign of any specific atmosphere being given to this area. There is no name, and there are no decorations. Perhaps this will change as the cafe continues to be built and filled out, but there is not a sign of that happening any time soon. Needless to say, my expectations are not high for this addition.

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