The Oberlin Review
<< Front page News February 8, 2008

The News in Brief: Wilder DeCafe Reopens with Renovations

Obies are once again enjoying the made-to-order sandwiches and smoothies they have been missing in the two months since DeCaf&eacute; temporarily closed its doors.

Employees’ complaints of an odor of decay and the subsequent discovery of a dysfunctional sewer line beneath DeCafe’s floor prompted Bon App&eacute;tit to move the eatery to Wilder Main over Thanksgiving break while facilities workers completed their investigation and the ensuing repairs.

Through December and January, facilities workers replaced corroded underground sanitary piping and electrical conduits beneath the concrete floor. They also addressed moisture issues along the north-facing exterior of DeCafe, installing a sump pump to filter water away from the building and into the storm sewer system. Chuck Turner of the Facilities Planning and Construction Office acted as project manager for the DeCafe renovations.

Despite the work already completed on the project, Turner said that the ultimate cause of the odor was not determined. The College is now working with an engineering consultant to assess the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and improve the air quality if necessary.

Another more visible change is a new office in what was formerly a corner seating area, but Lisa Anadiotis, supervisor at DeCafe, said that no customer seats were sacrificed.

Director of Business Operations and Dining Services Michele Gross hoped that frequenters of DeCafe had been able to take advantage of alternatives in the store’s absence; Campus Dining Services added hours at Azariah’s Caf&eacute; as well as weekend hours at Dascomb, nearly doubled the number of sandwiches at the Science Cart and extended Study Break Special hours.

“We tried to have the students inconvenienced as little as possible,” said Gross.

Gross regretted that the DeCafe staff had to be split among the store in Wilder Main, the Science Cart and sandwich making at Lord/Saunders. Due to the lack of facilities for food preparation, “We couldn’t do what we do downstairs up in Wilder Main,” explained Gross.

Students were not the only ones happy to have DeCafe back. Alice Cornish, a cashier, was one of many workers redistributed to various venues across campus to meet student needs. “When I was at the other building, we didn’t come into contact with students,” she said. “Not that it wasn’t nice at Lord/Saunders, but I’ve worked here all the time. This is like home away from home.”


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