Sorely missed by Collinsites during the pandemic, the Cheshire Café re-opened for business in mid-March. With social distancing and cleanliness standards in check, customers can now pick up their drinks and pastries to enjoy in the Coffeehouse. The Cheshire Café has been a mainstay at Collins for decades, having begun as a Q project in the early 1990’s. From its beginning, it has evolved into the active, community-oriented coffee shop it is today. Alumni remember the café fondly, with many former baristas and managers still in touch with Collins to this day. For many, working at the café was an important and formative experience for them as college students.
“I worked as a co-manager of the Chesh during my senior year, and it was by far the best job I've ever had. I got to run a business as an undergrad. I got to conduct interviews as an employer. I was responsible for keeping the place running, by doing stocking trips, daily register reports, and staying on call when baristas needed me. I've never had another work experience like it. I learned more than how to brew coffee and be a customer service representative. I learned how to manage and run something. It was a formative life experience that I'm so grateful to have had.” – Ash Kulak
Beyond professional development and work experience, former baristas and managers express what the café meant to them as Collins community members:
“Countless evenings were spent for me in the coffeehouse or inside the Cheshire Cafe. I’ve never had any other job that made me want to visit on my days off. The Chesh is a place for doing homework, having deep conversations, and sipping a hot drink while watching snow fall through the window.” – Siarra Bazler
“The Cheshire Café is a cozy, intimate space. It’s the kind of place where even very shy people (like myself!) could feel comfortable sitting down at a table and joining in a conversation happening between clusters of patrons and the barista. The second week of classes during my freshman year, I did just that, and wound up meeting people who would remain part of my life and social circles for not only the rest of my time at Collins, but for years beyond graduation.” – Erin McDaniel
The café is currently managed by Sarah Latona and Mike Randall, who will continue their service in Foster next year. Opening the café has breathed new life into the community and provided much-needed social interaction and friendship opportunities to freshmen who were denied the traditional college experience this year due to COVID-19. We are looking forward to continuing the café’s operations in Foster-Shea during the 2021-22 academic year.