November 7, 2004

ORCSA acquires Cobb cafe duties

The office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities (ORCSA) assumed management of the historically student-run Cobb Coffee Shop last summer, leaving the Divinity School Cafe the only independent student-run coffee shop.

The former manager of Cobb Coffee Shop, Luke Anable, yielded his position to Jen Kennedy, the Coffee Shop Coordinator employed by ORCSA. With this transfer of management, Cobb joined Ex Libris Coffee Shop and Uncle Joe's Coffee Bar under the authority of ORCSA. ORCSA has overseen Ex Libris and Uncle Joe's since their inceptions.

Kennedy said that despite the management change, Cobb, like Ex Libris and Uncle Joe's, is still student-run. "I am mostly there to keep [the student managers] on track," she said. "I directly manage our three general managers and more indirectly manage the assistant managers from each shop. I help them navigate the University systems for vendor approval, keep them up to health code, and help institute solid business procedure."

The three campus coffee shops, all prized magnets of student workers, employ over 60 students. "Part of this student employment includes our managers," Kennedy said. "With these positions particularly, we are trying to prepare students for the real working world."

Anable, a second-year in the College, said he was not sure why the cafe's management was restructured. He assumes that Cobb was losing too much money under his management.

While unwilling to provide figures, Kennedy said that the coffee shops' profits differ from one another. "Each has a unique personality, a different capacity for business, a variance in product and obviously location, and different challenges due to these factors," she said. She attributed the shops' other challenges to their spatial constraints—lacking storage capacity and proximity to other food establishments—as causes for their financial woes.

The cafés are considered student resources and consequently are financially supported by the University. This support allows all of the shops to provide subsidized food from local restaurants.

Cobb's customer base is diverse; its customers are a mélange of students, faculty, and University and Hospital staff. Ex Libris attracts a mix of students, library staff and faculty and Uncle Joe's primarily serves students and frequenters of the Reynolds Club.

Kennedy said that she does not know of any significant changes in Cobb as a result of ORCSA's assumption of its management. "Right now I'm just trying to focus my attention on making the existing functions of all three shops as efficient as possible and [making sure] that we are not losing money in avoidable ways."

Anable said he noticed a change since ORCSA moved in—the employee food discount, which he and fellow workers used to enjoy, has been significantly reduced.