Coffee lovers rejoice as two new Starbucks have been opened on the SCSU campus. While students happily line up to grab their specialty coffees, there are multiple questions arising around the arrival of this popular chain at SCSU.
International brands, like Starbucks, want to have themselves represented on university campuses. The student body on campuses like SCSU can guarantee the franchise business, but it can also prove to be challenging, as they would have to operate on the school’s individual schedule. When the school closes, so must they.
For smaller businesses, having a presence on a college campus can be beneficial, as it brings awareness of their brand to a large concentrated audience. Starbucks is a well-known international brand with branches in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
With the arrival of another large coffee chain on campus, the question of concern seems to be why the school has chosen to bring Starbucks instead of Caribou, who already has a presence on campus. Is this not a conflict of interest? Usually, when a franchise wants to come open a location on a school campus, it has to go through one of three things. It can either partner with an existing franchise that has rights to the school’s food market, work directly with the school, or partner with a third party contractor.
The dean of Learning Resources Services, Mark Vargas, was involved in the decision to put a Starbucks in the Miller Center. When the owner of the Miller Center’s former Fair Trade Café, John Clare, decided not to renew his lease and retire, Vargas and Tammy McGee (vice president of Finance and Administration) met with Sodexo to discuss options for replacing The Fair Trade Café.
When asked why they chose Starbucks, Vargas replied, “We’re trying to bring more diversity in terms of options for students.” Because SCSU is contracted with Sodexo, who operates both Caribou and the new Starbucks stores, and not any one coffee shop, this kind of diversity is possible without any conflict.
According to Vargas, the new Starbucks is part of a broader plan to create improved student experiences within the Miller Center. “We are trying to see this holistically—not just as a coffee shop, not just a wired café, but as Husky Tech, a new entrance to the library, and then building more walkthrough services for students… My goal is to turn the library into much more of a community space.”
The new Starbucks, along with the other changes implemented in the Miller Center, have brought about an apparent influx of student traffic. As of late, Starbucks refills have gone from being free to a $1.
“Our impression is that there is much more buzz and more activity going on,” Vargas said. He also discussed upcoming plans for open-mic nights in the café, an initiative that has been successful in Atwood’s Caribou.
The Miller Center Starbucks is open Mon. – Thurs. 7a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sun. 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The ISELF Starbucks is open Mon. – Thurs. 7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Fri. 7 a.m. – 2 p.m., and closed weekends.