Cafe@Baker’s opening delayed indefinitely

According to College spokesperson Diana Lawrence, the new cafe will likely not open until the College lifts its indoor mask mandate.

by Adriana James-Rodil | 2/17/22 5:10am

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The space formerly occupied by KAF has been empty since KAF's sudden closure in May 2020.

by Caroline Kramer / The Dartmouth

The opening of Cafe@Baker — a new cafe slated to replace the old King Arthur Flour in Baker-Berry library — has been delayed even further from its tentative Feb. 21 opening date, now awaiting the lifting of the indoor mask mandate. 

According to text messages to DDS displayed on the monitors inside the Courtyard Cafe and the Class of ’53 Commons, Cafe@Baker’s “tentative” opening date was Feb. 21. College spokesperson Diana Lawrence wrote in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth, however, that the opening will be further delayed. 

“That is a stale text message response,” Lawrence wrote. “… It should open once the mask mandate is lifted and they are able to hire staff.”

Cafe@Baker was originally set to open at the start of winter term but has faced continual delays due to staffing and equipment shortages, she added. DDS director Jon Plodzik stated that staffing is a concern across all of Dartmouth’s dining operations, not solely for Cafe@Baker. 

“Timing of when new properties are to open in this environment, and the hiring of full teams of workers to run them, is very challenging,” Plodzik wrote in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth.

The opening of Cafe@Baker — located behind the reception desk at the entrance of Baker-Berry Library, which was previously occupied by KAF — would provide a new option for students to purchase food and drinks at the library. On May 14, 2020, KAF’s cafe location closed after nine years of operation, leaving Novack Cafe as the sole source of food and drinks within the library. 

As students await the opening of Cafe@Baker, Peter Mikhlin ’23 said he thinks this additional dining option in the library could reduce the long lines at Novack.

“If that option existed, everyone wouldn’t go to Novack, and the pre-class breakfast rush wouldn’t be so intense,” he said.

He added that since KAF’s closure, he has experienced worse wait times at Novack, as students who previously frequented KAF are now limited to only one option in the library.

Shane Hewitt ’22 said KAF was “super wonderful” because the cafe served food and beverages that differed from usual Dartmouth Dining Services offerings. As a result, Hewitt explained that Cafe@Baker might not mirror KAF in popularity unless its products are “unique.”

In order to differentiate itself from Novack, Cafe@Baker has curated its own menu, according to Lawrence. Cafe@Baker is expected to sell “a variety of house-made hand pies and pastries from King Arthur’s bakery and Dartmouth Dining, as well as coffee, espresso drinks and teas,” Lawrence wrote. 

The DDS winter dining schedule website also states that Cafe@Baker will supply espresso products from Mocha Joe’s Roasting Company and include a Rishi Loose Tea Bar. 

In addition to the menu,“[DDS] invested in the refacing of the physical space, purchased new equipment and worked on the menu of offerings for quite some time,” Lawrence wrote.

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