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Sunday, April 14, 2024

New construction to expand CoHo westward

The project will have three focuses, including more seating, an improved back-of-house area and the renovation of customer restrooms 

 

By RODRIGO VILLEGAS — campus@theaggie.org 

 

In 2022, the ASUCD Coffee House (CoHo) began its expansion project under the leadership of Food Service Director with the Associated Students Dining Services Darin Schluep. 

“I was approached by somebody from the campus, a regular Coffee House customer, who had mentioned the idea [following] the Freeborn Hall transition,” Schluep said. “The work being done at the Freeborn Hall location right next to [the CoHo] kind of opened up an opportunity.”

According to Schluep, this created the potential for a westward expansion of the CoHo. He hopes to address several focuses with this project, such as additional seating in the area. 

With the Freeborn Hall location now opened up, the bike parking currently on the west side of the CoHo may get relocated. The project aims to take advantage of that space to create more patio seating. While Schluep said that he does not consider outdoor seating as valuable as indoors, he said that this will serve to address the constant need for more seating options. 

“Even though we’re not necessarily serving as many customers every day as we were before COVID, we still have a pretty impacted dining room, so we identify that all the time as an opportunity for growth,” Schluep said. 

The project also addresses the back-of-house area, which currently does not provide a suitable space for staff to prepare for their shift or store their belongings. Matthew Fucile, the Executive Director of Operations and Events Management at The Division of Student Affairs emphasized the lack of space. 

“The staff don’t really have an appropriate back-of-house space to sit down and put [their] shoes on or take a break,” Fucile said. “They have to do that out in the dining room, which is almost always impacted during any of the hours of operation.” 

He also cited the lack of safe storage for staff’s belongings as another issue. 

“Student staff can come in through two different ways and one of the ways is right from the dining room space over by the bathrooms, and it’s not managed,” Fucile said. “So you can have a person — whether that be students or [the] public — walk in there and most of the time there [will] be a lot of students’ belongings unsecured that [they] could get to.” 

The project would enable the CoHo to better manage its current operations and staff, allow for storage cubbies or lockers and a private break area for staff. 

Lastly, the project includes a renovation of the customer restrooms to shift towards gender-inclusive restrooms.  

The project is in its early stages with a final design near completion. However, the cost of the project is still unknown, and as a result, it is unclear whether or not sufficient funding is available.

“There’s some behind-the-scenes work being done with electricians and plumbers to identify what the needs are with the project,” Schluep said. “This is so that we can finalize all the different structural components that’ll have to happen in order to provide some quotes.” 

A price estimate for the entire project will likely be solidified in early Jan. 2024, according to Schluep. Once these estimates are provided, he and his team will determine whether or not they can go through with the project, though Schluep feels fairly confident that at least some of the project will be funded. 

Furthermore, Schluep hesitated to provide a timeline due to many unknown variables. He hopes that the project will be completed in the upcoming summer 2024 so that it does not impede the CoHo’s operations or interfere with customers. 

 

Written by: Rodrigo Villegas — campus@theaggie.org

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