By Aaron Jaffe ‘17
I walked into Gordinier Hall on an abnormally warm winter morning to get my breakfast at the new Saxbys Café. There was the smell of brewing coffee and the sound of light music playing in the air. The students around me were working hard on their homework, one was working on a new song they were writing and others were just taking their time and enjoying the comfortable atmosphere the new establishment on campus provides.
The café, new to campus this semester, was brought by an initiative of the University and Saxbys Coffee headquarters to offer new entrepreneurial opportunities to students in the State System universities. The café is completely student-run and offers the same level of service as one of the full-service shops in its home city, Philadelphia.
I had a chance to sit down with Gabrielle Spica, the first student Café Executive Officer (CEO) at Saxbys. She’s a junior from Lancaster, Pa. and a Speech Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Entrepreneurship. Her duties include overseeing the daily operations of the café, hiring staff and creating the design of the café. Her bubbly and pleasant yet driven personality made it clear why she was hired to take the role of being the first CEO at Millersville’s Saxbys and help to establish it on campus.
Gabrielle excitedly said the café “provides a chance for students to gain practical experience on campus while making a reasonable wage.” She’s happy that she gets to have this experience while receiving a full semester’s worth of academic credit as well as a stipend for running the café. She believes that it’s beneficial to have a peer as their supervisor and that each year a new student will have the chance to gain the “monumental experience that she has.”
“I’m excited for what Saxbys can do for the students,” says Spica. “We exceeded our opening goal by 110 percent and it will be great to see where the café will go in the future.”
As I sat there with my freshly brewed tea that gave a hint of lemon and honey into the air around me, I noticed that everyone behind the counter was enjoying themselves more than you would usually see at a café. Allison Palmer, a senior Speech Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations from Phoenixville, Pa. who has been working at Saxbys since its opening, said fondly, “My favorite part about working at Sabys is how close everyone is. Everyone is truly a family and we are not just co-workers. We care about each other and truly enjoy working here. I love going into work each day and knowing I will be surrounded by my friends and doing something I love.”
The café not only offers the regular items as a full-service Saxbys, but also offers deals that fit on the student’s meal plans. This means that they can eat and drink there without having to pay extra money out-of-pocket. This not only increases the popularity of the café, but it also gives students more variety to their on-campus diet.
“My favorite menu item is the caprese sandwich. It makes for a nice light lunch,” says Sydney Wilcoxson, a freshman International Studies major. “It’s great that I can use my meal plan or Flex when I’m there, because it makes it easier to get more options than what is offered at the traditional dining spots on campus.”
Plans for the café in the future are not yet solidified, but they’re looking into a few options. Gabrielle says there are plans to work with the University Activities Board to bring local artists into the café, including student performers and adding outdoor seating during the warmer months. Courtney Petersheim will take over as student CEO next semester.