University News

Blue Room opens new digs

Focaccia sandwiches, soup are casualties of move to former Faunce mailroom

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, September 7, 2009

The Blue Room is on the move.

Despite extensive renovations to Faunce House that have shuttered the former Blue Room Cafe and Campus Market for the 2009-10 school year, students will still be able to get lunch sandwiches or an early-morning coffee fix at the Blue Room’s temporary location in the space that formerly housed the University mail room.

A “Postal Cafe” in J. Walter Wilson has temporarily replaced the Campus Market, according to Senior Director for Student Engagement Ricky Gresh.

The relocated Blue Room opened Aug. 31 in a redesigned multipurpose room that had for decades housed the University’s mail services before they were relocated last year to the J. Walter Wilson student services building. The cafe will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

During nights and weekends, the room will serve as an event space for student programming to replace Faunce’s Leung Gallery, which is closed because of the construction.

Though the new cafe will offer the same coffee and pastry options, some of its other offerings will change in the new space, said Blue Room unit manager Allison Wigen ’10.
Because Blue Room employees “can’t prepare food on-site” in the new location, Wigen said, the focaccia sandwiches and soups that were lunchtime staples for some students in the old space will be replaced this year by salads and wrapped sandwiches from the Sharpe Refectory kitchen.

The University had originally planned to relocate the Blue Room to the lobby of the Salomon Center during the Faunce renovations, but student concern about lack of seating led to the new plan, Gresh said. “What we heard from students is the availability of a space to gather during the day on the Main Green was really important.”

The new Blue Room will feature “significantly increased seating,” Gresh said. Wigen said the way service is laid out this year should improve traffic flow during busy times of day.
“The way the new space is set up, business will be more streamlined than it was in the old location,” said Wigen, who added that she thinks students will be pleased by the new location.

“It will take a couple days for everyone to find out where we are and just get used to the new location and new menu offerings, but ultimately I think we have prime location on campus,” said Wigen. “When students need food between classes, we’ll still be that hub.”

Students will be able to access the Blue Room through an entrance on Waterman Street or through the courtyard between Faunce and the Salomon Center, though the entrances may shift during certain phases of the construction, Gresh said.

The Postal Cafe, located near the main entrance on the ground floor of J. Walter Wilson, is designed to function as a mini-mart like the Campus Market, Wigen said, but it is smaller. “In size, it’s more like a cafe cart,” she said.

The Postal Cafe will be open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Both the new Blue Room and the Postal Cafe will close once current construction is complete. University officials have said they aim to have work complete on the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center in Faunce by next fall. The Blue Room will reopen in its permanent location on the first floor of the new campus center, while the Campus Market will return to the building’s lower level, Gresh said.

In the meantime, wireless access has been added to the Third World Center and Sarah Doyle Women’s Center for students who need additional working space, Gresh said. The Bear’s Lair in Graduate Center will remain open, and a new recreational lounge will open in Morriss Hall, across the lobby from the Morriss-Champlin study lounge, Gresh added. “There’s a real commitment to bring (the new campus center) on-line as soon as possible,” Gresh said, and construction is currently on schedule.

Other summer construction finished on schedule, according to Thomas Forsberg, associate director of housing and residential life. Caswell Hall has a new lounge and kitchen space and several new double rooms, while Slater Hall got new bathrooms. Residents of Littlefield, Hope, Slater, Young Orchard and Barbour halls will enjoy new furniture this year, Forsberg said.

“We are just getting ready for everybody to show up,” he added.