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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Understanding the Coho culture

Although the ASUCD Coffee House will be under renovation until August 2010 and the location has changed, the Coho culture that many students have come to love is still the same.

Coffee addicts, bakery enthusiasts and pizza aficionados can still eat and drink their tasty treats made by the entirely student-staffed Coho.

Virginia Poole, a senior plant biology major and the “out-front” student manager at the Coho mapped out the new Memorial Union layout.

“Where the Post Office was is now Pizza; the pizza is delicious, by the way. Post Office storage is now Coho To Go, Classical Notes is now the Deli, the book buy back is Espresso, and what was the Aggie Student Store is now our Bakery,” Poole said.

Lindsay Newman, a kitchen supervisor for the Coho, said that the Coho itself has not changed too much.

“The location is very different, but in terms of what we do, it’s pretty similar,” said Newman, a senior pharmaceutical chemistry major.

As for the social environment of the Coho, student employees find themselves pitted against each other in the age-old rivalry between kitchen and out-front staff, which has been brewing longer than anyone can remember.

“I have no idea why the rivalry started, but it’s been going on since before I started working here when I was a first-year,” Lauren Woods said. “It’s more of a fun rivalry; no one really actually hates anyone.”

Jack Zwald, an ASUCD senator and out-front employee believes that rivalry is fairly typical for restaurants.

“There’s always a conflict between kitchen staff and out-front staff. That’s how it is at most restaurants, but it’s all friendly at the Coho.”

This rivalry is evident in the way that staffers talk about each other.

“There is no rivalry, we’re just better,” said Justin Goodwin, a cashier supervisor.

“The rivalry is that out-front people in general need to be better looking since we deal with customers. The kitchen staff has to work in cramped, hot, dark quarters, making them bitter and pale,” Poole said.

Zwald agrees with his fellow out-front colleagues.

“We’re the face of the Coho. We are definitely nice people with impeccable social skills. With the kitchen, there’s just a reason they’re in back, you know?” Zwald said.

As a member of the kitchen staff, Woods’ opinion is different than what the out-front people have to say.

“We win at everything we compete in against them in … We are just better than out-front,” Woods said.

Jackie Hodaly thinks that the close quarters in the kitchen are what bring the kitchen staff together.

“I think we are better because we don’t have to deal with customers, so we get a chance to interact with each other more than out-front or cashier employees,” Hodaly said. “We work in a tight space, so we just naturally like each other.”

The Coho move and renovation has not changed this culture or rivalry too much, said Woods, also a kitchen student manager, even though operations are slightly different than in years past.

“Honestly, the biggest change for both kitchen and out-front staff is that we’re used to being connected in one building. We’re used to seeing each other, but it’s changed because we’re separated completely now,” said Woods, a senior political science major.

The Coho move itself took only one day during summer session one, said Goodwin, a senior Spanish and biological sciences major. The preparation, however, took almost two months.

Student employees were in charge of moving everything from dishes to refrigerators, while movers were hired for larger items such as ovens and hobarcs – large bowls used to whip frosting, and dough.

“Moving wasn’t too bad. It was a lot of work and it was tiring, but we got paid for it, and got to hang out with our friends,” said Goodwin. “I wouldn’t want to do it every weekend, though.”

The kitchen is now located in a temporary trailer next to the MU across the street from the social sciences building.

Zwald said there have been pros and cons to the change.

“In some respects my job has gotten easier because I no longer have to scoop ice cream, which I really didn’t enjoy doing. But we have to do more janitorial work like mopping,” Zwald said.

The average work-day for the out-front staff can start as early as 6:30 a.m. and concludes with closing the bakery at 10:30 p.m. Zwald said that out-front duties consist of prepping the deli station as well as making pre-made sandwiches. Working at the bakery includes bringing out the baked goods, mopping floors, and constantly brewing 16 urns of coffee.

“It’s a constant competition, who can drink more versus who can brew more,” Zwald said, a junior international relations major.

Whether they are working out front or in the kitchens, all student employees agree that working at the Coho is one of the best jobs on campus, in spite of the new cramped quarters.

“Working at the Coho is the best job on campus, hands down,” Zwald said. “The people are the best, the hours are the best. I wouldn’t work anywhere else on campus.”


MEGAN ELLIS can be reached at features@theaggie.org.


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