Coffee House closes down indefinitely after more than 50 years

Coffee House closes down indefinitely after more than 50 years

Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE

Darin Schluep, the food service director, said they hope to reopen eventually

The Coffee House (CoHo) at UC Davis announced that it would be closing indefinitely as of Friday, Jan. 15. 

“There were a variety of factors that prompted our decision to close, but the most unfortunate part is the loss of employment for our student employees who have been so understanding and patient with us as we’ve worked through this challenging year,” said Food Service Director Darin Schluep in an email. “We plan to reevaluate all of the different considerations involved and are looking forward to reopening as soon as we can.” 

The CoHo has long been a popular hangout on campus for students, professors and staff members alike, providing its customers with a range of meal options, from pho to deli food. It was established in 1968, originally located in East Hall. After East Hall was demolished in 1973, the CoHo was added to the east wing of the Memorial Union and underwent substantial renovations in 1991 and 2010. 

The CoHo also hosted concerts for now-famous bands during the ‘70s and ‘80s, including Devo, The Police and The Talking Heads and was considered the largest student-run restaurant in the United States.

Currently housed in the Memorial Union, it has been the location of student activism in recent years. In 2018, around 10 students lay on their backs in front of the CoHo, protesting the police killing of Stephon Clark, a Black man from Sacramento. 

Later that year, a CoHo employee led a walkout after hundreds of student workers at UC Davis missed pay during the rollout of UCPath, a new payroll system. 

But business became slower in 2020, according to a third-year double major in linguistics and human development who worked at the CoHo until this week and spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

“We were notified through email,” she said. “Then there was a meeting held [last] Tuesday for all employees and that was when we learned that it was closing unfortunately.”

This development was expected, the employee explained. The CoHo had already reduced many of its operations during Spring Quarter 2020, in accordance with pandemic regulations in Yolo County. Employees still received pay during that time, however.

But with both indoor and outdoor seating forbidden at local eateries due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, many businesses have struggled with a decrease in customers, the CoHo among them. 

“We look forward to getting back to what has made the Coffee House a UC Davis institution for over 50 years: serving delicious, inexpensive food and beverages while employing and providing valuable job skills to as many students as possible,” said Schluep in a widely circulated press release regarding the CoHo’s closure. 

Schluep’s communication stressed that the closure was not permanent and that the CoHo hoped to resume operations as soon as possible.

The student employee interviewed by The Aggie said that while her position there wasn’t her primary source of income, many students who do rely on it for their paychecks are struggling.

“I know that there are a lot of people who rely on the CoHo for that source of income, and so a lot of my negative feelings and grief about the CoHo are for those people that need those jobs,” she said. 

Written by: Rebecca Bihn-Wallace — campus@theaggie.org