By Kal Weiss
On Monday, April 10, the Commons café at Lewis and Clark College closed, according to an email sent by Sean Hill, the dean, and Cherise Jackson, the Vice President of Student Affairs, to all students on Wednesday, April 5.
Since August 2021, Bella Milano has partnered with the college to provide food for the student body and staff, which included the now-defunct Reid café. The email stated that Bella Milano’s partnership with the college posed a financial risk due to the low amount of foot traffic around campus, which was the same reason for Reid café’s closure. Bella Milano had hoped to break even on sales, but unfortunately, that was not the case, and both parties lost money.
The announcement of the Commons café’s closure was sudden, with a former part-time café worker commented, “I had found out about it [yesterday afternoon] through a student who had got an email from his professor.” The worker also stated, “We came in to find a closed sign and a food truck schedule glued to the counter.”
Despite the closure, Chris Paulda, the director of Capital Projects and Campus Operations, believes that this will be a new era for Lewis and Clark’s food service. She said, “Instead of a loss, I look at the closing of the café as an opportunity for the College to do better for the students when it comes to providing food options.”
Paulda also commented on the plans for the start of the next school year, saying, “Moving to a Bistro To Go model will provide more access to food by being open longer hours. There are healthy options, fresh food and we will make sure there are vegan options. Incentives and discounts are available by using an app for transactions.”
To make up for the closure of the Commons café, the school will offer food service through several food trucks, including Pig on a Wing, LaMay’s Food Revival, Ray’s Soul Touching Tacos, Street Eatz, and Taylor’s Fire and Smoke. The food trucks will be in the circle drive in front of Hatheway Hall and will serve the school from 11 am to 1 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting on Tuesday, April 11, and ending on Thursday, May 11. The popularity of the food trucks will be measured during these weeks, and if they are successful, the school may decide to make them a regular occurrence once the new semester approaches.
In addition to the food trucks, the school will provide vending machines and mini markets starting in Fall 2023. These machines will offer packaged food, salads, wraps, yogurt, and various beverages. As of now, information about the vending machines and mini markets is limited, but more will be provided in the summer.