Last Sunday, the Chester’s Tavern Instagram account announced the cafe will be reopening Friday, April 16th at 7pm. This news came to the joy of many, as Chester’s has long been a hub for students to relax, drink coffee, study, and socialize.
Since Gordon College implemented its COVID-19 policies, Dining Services opened a new food location in the Ken Olsen Science Center, kept open the Bistro in Jenks, and continued to service Gillies. However, the most recent announcement about Chester’s was not the result of any effort on their part. The credit goes to three representatives from Student Government: Karl Deckert (‘21), Megan Haynes (‘22), and Elijah Martin (‘21).
The Gordon Review interviewed each contributor about the process.
According to Martin, a previous co-manager of Chester’s, the idea of reopening began last semester. He, along with two other employees, sent a proposal to their supervisor late November. They did not receive a response back and soon discovered that he was no longer working at Gordon. This news, Martin said, “led us to believe that we wouldn’t be able to open it back up any time soon.” The idea appeared to be dead in the water.
However, in January, the project was revitalized. Representatives Haynes and Deckert reached out to Chris Jones, the Vice President of Administration, about the possibility of reopening Chester’s at some point during the spring semester. They brought Martin onboard, who shared with them his previous work on the issue. Together they drafted a proposal to send to Mr. Jones and Debbie, the General Manager of Bon Appetit.
“The details and logistics of reopening were a bit complex,” Deckert told the Gordon Review, “due to the nature of the college’s dining contract with Bon Appetit, as well as the need to adhere to COVID-19 protocols. In the end, Bon Appetit was willing to work with GCSA and we were able to make this a reality.” After a meeting with Bon Appetit and Mr. Jones, the two parties agreed to reopen Chester’s under the conditions, as Martin explained, “that GCSA compensate the cost of student employment for the rest of this semester, opening hours offset from those at the Bistro, and that we don’t hire anyone who already works within Dining Services.”
“All of us worked together to find a situation which is best for the student on campus,” Haynes said.
When asked what they envision Chester’s to look like for the rest of the semester, Haynes acknowledged that “it is not going to be restored to its full glory yet.” Chester’s is going to be in a sort of “trial run,” Martin noted. As part of the negotiations, both sides agreed to start small. As for right now, he explained, it will “only be open Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays throughout the day, and we will look at expanding into the week next year.” Additionally, “due to COVID restraints, we won’t be serving any food, and we’ll just be focusing on coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and soon, Italian sodas.”
Despite these limitations, all three believe that Chester’s will still be an amazing place for students. “It will definitely return to a great place to vacate your mind while you are still on campus,” Haynes noted. Especially for the freshmen who have never experienced Chester’s, expect “VIBES!”
One of the best parts about Chester’s is the atmosphere it brings, Deckert explained, “One can sit in study, hangout, or work in a space that feels like an off-campus coffee shop without actually ever leaving campus.” The coffee served there is also a “step above what is offered in the Bistro.”
In addition to the coffee and the drinks they provide, Chester’s also provides a unique employment opportunity. “I really love the fact that it’s a student run space,” Martin said. As he elaborated:
“The fact that it’s fully student staffed means that it’s ultimately on the student-staff to ensure that the space is being utilized efficiently and appropriately, if that makes sense. Unlike other jobs where these responsibilities ultimately rest on a faculty/staff member, the fact that your managers are fellow students or even classmates means that (at least for me) a much greater amount of responsibility is entrusted to each student staff member. I think this is ultimately beneficial for students as they transition to navigating professional spaces where they are given more liberty to be responsible and take initiative in their work.”
Overall, Chester’s is expected to provide a refreshing experience to the student body. “Twinkle lights and chill music? Check. Late nights and caffeine hit? Check. Possible DTR location? On our campus, I’m sure,” Haynes enthusiastically declared. “This really is a great place to be,” she said, “I’m so excited for freshmen to have this taste of normalcy.”
Categories: Student Life