New King Arthur cafe competes with Novack

by Kira Witkin | 10/6/11 10:00pm

by Richard Yu and Richard Yu / The Dartmouth

"It's kind of ironic, but it's a good thing," Rosenberger, who serves as Dartmouth Dining Services Dietician Manager, said. "Competition is a good thing."

Novack still stocks King Arthur Flour pastries, but King Arthur Flour now offers some of the same items and more at its location in the news room on the first floor of Baker-Berry. Sales at Novack have subsequently suffered, Rosenberger said. Exact sales figures for Novack so far this term are not currently available, according to Rosenberger.

"We've noticed a drop, I think because everyone just wants to go upstairs and see what King Arthur's all about and give it a try," she said.

Despite the new competition, however, Novack has remained busy between class periods, Rosenberger said.

To combat falling sales, Rosenberger said she met with King Arthur Flours' head bakers this week to brainstorm alternate goods to sell at Novack so there will be less overlap between the two cafes' offerings. Business may also rebound at Novack in the coming weeks once the "novelty" of King Arthur Flour has worn off, she said.

The addition of King Arthur Flour has improved the service at Novack, according to Blythe George '12, Novack student area manager. Other than at peak times between classes, Novack lines are shorter and therefore more manageable, she said.

"King Arthur has taken a little bit of that pressure off," George said. "It's not nearly as much of an onslaught as it used to be."

Dean of Libraries Jeff Horrell said that before King Arthur Flour opened, he never thought the new cafe would negatively affect Novack's business.

"There wasn't a sense that it would diminish the Courtyard Cafe or Novack or any place because there seems to be so much demand by students and faculty for food and beverages," he said. "Clearly we believe the campus can maintain two kinds of services based on what you're interested in having."

Many students interviewed by The Dartmouth said they make a conscious decision about where to go for food when studying in or passing through the library.

Members of the Class of 2015 said Novack's meal-swipe payment option which is not offered by its King Arthur Flour competitor makes the cafe a popular dining choice, since they are required to be on the 20-meals-per-week SmartChoice plan.

Upperclass students residing on campus, meanwhile, are able to choose between 20, 14 or five meals-per-week options and may have more available DBA to spend at the King Arthur Flour cafe. Students living off campus can also purchase a DBA-only plan.

Ellie Pearlman '15 said she typically chooses Novack for breakfast because she can use a meal-swipe and the line there typically moves faster than the line at King Arthur Cafe.

On a Thursday morning during the rush before 10 a.m. classes, Novack helped a line of nine customers in two minutes, while King Arthur Flour helped a line of six customers in six minutes.

Blaine Ponto '14 said she has noticed a difference between how quickly customers are helped at Novack and how quickly they are served at King Arthur Flour.

"If I'm in a rush and need to get food between classes, I'm OK standing in a longer line at Novack because I know it moves faster," Ponto said.

Other students interviewed by The Dartmouth also said the unique atmospheres of the two locations determine their dining decisions. During a typical afternoon, it is not uncommon to find students at King Arthur Flour reading novels while sitting on the leather chairs with their legs draped over the arm rests. At Novack, however, students said most of their peers sit upright while completing homework assignments or sending emails from their laptop computers.

Anna Franklin '14, who claims King Arthur Flour as a second home, said she comes to the new cafe every morning and evening to study.

"I like sitting here and doing work here better," she said. "I feel like I'm in a cute coffee shop rather than the bottom of the library."

Jonathan Katz '12, however, said he prefers the "social but focused study space" that is Novack. Katz visited King Arthur Flour once but has not returned, he said.

"It was really crowded." Katz said. "It felt too trendy."

The Dartmouth community would benefit from viewing the cafes as collaborators rather than competitors, according to George.

"It's really easy to think of us as competing because obviously we're both selling coffee and we're both in the same space," she said, "But I think given that we have different strengths we can compliment one another more than being in competition."