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Davis

Davis, California

Saturday, October 16, 2021

CoHo close to finish line

Despite aiming to be open the first day of school, the ASUCD Coffee House remains under construction.

A bid protest delayed the start of construction by approximately one month, meaning contractors still need to finish, health and safety inspectors still need to approve and CoHo employees still need to be trained.

CoHo director Sharon Coulson said she is reluctant to establish a date for the opening, but hopes it will be in a couple of weeks – early to mid October.

“What we don’t want to do is open too early, before we’re really ready,” she said. “We want to make sure all the employees feel comfortable so the customer has a good experience and we can hit a home run the very first day.”

UC Davis is legally required to choose the lowest bidder for any construction project, however the second lowest bidder protested for not getting selected, Coulson said.

The bid protest was filed within two days of the selection, requiring a bid protest hearing. On Aug. 19, a decision was announced to reject the bid protest.

In addition, a number of existing building deficiencies required additional time to correct, said Gary Dahl, senior project manager of Design & Construction Management, in an e-mail interview. These included replacing drain lines in the basement and correcting unstable structural supports.

Due to savings from the competitive construction bid, the CoHo was able to gain a number of extra improvements, such as new and modern food service equipment and flooring finishes. These improvements and changes are necessary to accommodate the new food service equipment and required additional time as well, Dahl said.

“Substantial efforts were made by the contractor and the Design & Construction Management team to compensate for these delays, including overtime construction and expediting of approvals and material deliveries,” Dahl said. “Unfortunately, sometimes the best efforts may not be sufficient.”

Despite the delay, construction has gone extremely well, Coulson said.

Once Coulson has access to the kitchen, she will begin training over 200 new employees. Since employees are now in classes, CoHo management can’t do any mass training. Rather, they need to train employees during their scheduled shifts.

The new CoHo will return with pho, Tex-Mex, sushi, smoothies and more. Changes to the layout should make things run more efficiently, Coulson said.

The new CoHo is also close to becoming 100 percent compostable, Coulson said. The CoHo will no longer sell items like bags of chips, containers that are not compostable. Some things, however, are more difficult to find compostable and affordable, like coffee lids.

Coulson and Entertainment Council director Perry Sanesanong plan to bring back CoHo shows as well. Coulson said the CoHo has the capability to have Swirlz – the café and bakery area – stay open later during performances.

Entertainment Council hopes to put on the first CoHo show at the end of fall or in early winter quarter, Sanesanong said.

Nonetheless, students were disappointed to see the CoHo still under construction this fall.

“[I felt] heartbroken,” said Aaron Heuckroth, junior microbiology major. “I wanted a sandwich today but instead I’m getting a muffin and some coffee.”

Students like Heukroth and other parties involved expressed hope that the CoHo will not disappoint.

“We are hopeful that the campus community will agree that the result was worth the wait and that they will enjoy the new Coffee House many years into the future,” Dahl said.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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