Students and faculty will soon have a new, conveniently located option to get their caffeine fix.
The new Espresso Oasis will, per approval of the health inspector, open this Thursday at 7:30 a.m. on the first floor of Newman Library, and will stay open until 11 p.m. on weekdays — making it the latest-open dining option on the academic side of campus.
According to CEO Keith Exton, the company has had its sights set on the Newman Library location for a while, and as soon as the previous vendor fell through, Exton and his company jumped on the opportunity to establish their thirteenth cafe.
“When Greenberry’s left in July 2012, it took a full year for us to turn the space around for the new vendor,” said Dennis Herron, Director of Facilities & Purchasing Operations for university libraries. “The students were disappointed when Greenberry’s left, but there is so much excitement surrounding the opening of Espresso Oasis.”
Exton calls the opening of the cafe on a college campus a perfect fit. “It’s exactly the kind of thing we already do with our other locations,” he said.
The cafe’s construction is still wrapping up as finishing touches are put on the space, featuring green walls and large chalkboard menus. Otherwise, the transition into the prime location has been quick and efficient.
“There are always little speed bumps in building a new shop, but these have been just minor mechanical issues,” said Herron.
Espresso Oasis prides itself on being a retailer of fresh, premium coffee products that “are roasted within 10 days of being consumed,” Exton said.
Besides offering a variety of coffee and espresso products, the cafe will also partner with Next Door Bake Shop to offer local bakery goods to accompany their drinks.
“It was a conscious decision on our part to do business with a local company,” Exton said. They chose Next Door Bake shop after consulting with students and community members who recommended them. “We’re really excited to work with that local business.”
Though the location will not accept Flex or dining dollars, it will accept Hokie Passport funds. However, if students purchase Espresso Oasis gift cards of $50 or more, they will receive a ten percent discount on their purchase.
Espresso Oasis has locations up and down the East Coast, and is located strictly in universities and teaching hospitals. The company is unique in that it acts as a fundraising machine by giving portions of the profits to the universities and facilities it is located within. Library staff noted that this was particularly distinct compared to other vendors in similar libraries across the country.
“The amount the library gets will be on a sliding scale directly related to how much profit the cafe makes,” Herron said.
The more sales the shop makes, the more money the library will see in its pocket. That money will go to furnishings, technology and other various activities the library sponsors.
Due to the fact that cafe is specifically catered to universities and college students, the operation hours will be later than other on-campus dining facilities — staying open till 11 p.m. on weeknights, and 7 p.m. on weekends.
“We certainly thought about going into locations other than campuses, but as the business grew early on, we decided that we didn’t want to branch out (because) these locations made so much sense,” Exton said.
Exton also said that almost 90 percent of staff hired so far in the coffee shop will be student employees, and Allie Mannon, a 2009 graduate with a degree in hospitality and tourism management, will serve as general manager.
“It’s great to be returning to campus after graduation and be around the buzz and camaraderie among students,” Mannon said.