Slow equipment delivery prolongs opening of local coffee joint’s on-campus location
The almost open-for-business Uncommon Grounds in the Campus Center.
By Kassie Parisi
University at Albany students will have to wait a little longer for their cup of joe. Uncommon Grounds was originally scheduled to be opened during the last weeks of September, but it has been sitting empty in the campus center since the fall semester began. The new scheduled dates for opening are between Oct. 14 and Oct. 16.
Uncommon Grounds is a popular local coffee shop that is known for its wide variety of sandwiches, bagels, and coffee. Steve Pearse, the Executive Director of University Auxiliary Services at UAlbany said that incorporating Uncommon Grounds into the campus center is part of the effort that is being made to incorporate local brands into the University. Cusato’s Pizza is also a local business from Rotterdam, N.Y. “Uncommon Grounds is own local Starbucks,” Pearse said, addressing the popularity of the restaurant.
The opening of the store has been delayed because specialized equipment that is needed for the establishment has been taking a long time to come in. Pearse affirmed that the equipment is now on the road to where it needs to be. Dan Murphy owner of the Western Ave. and downtown Saratoga location will also own UAlbany’s shop.
In order to proceed, Murphy needs a specialized coffee machine, espresso machine, and coffee grinder. The machines needed cannot be bought at a typical appliance store. Murphy has been waiting to get the specialized machines because these are the machines that are used at the Uncommon Grounds in both of his other stores. His intention is to have identical products at all locations. According to Pearse, another factor that slowed down the process of implementing the store on campus was the fact that UAS took longer than expected to finalize a contract with Sodexo, the university’s new dining services provider. Pearse said that the contract with Uncommon Grounds could not be considered until the contract with Sodexo was in place.
The location in the Campus Center has staff that is ready to begin work as soon as the necessary equipment is in place. The staff will need to be trained on the equipment, so it should take around two days for the store to officially open when the machines get in, thus creating the two-day window for opening. One day will be for training and preparation and on day will be an actual opening for customers.
Pearse said that the staff is a combination of students and professional workers. This way, students will be able to get involved with the store but at the same time, a standard of professionalism will be maintained. One major difference between the store on campus and the store on Western is that though Murphy will own the location on campus, the staff employed in the campus location will be working for Sodexo.
The Uncommon Grounds in the Campus Center will be somewhat different than the shop on Western Ave. The store on campus will be smaller and focus on selling bagels and coffee. There will not be a deli, like the Western Ave. location has. Pearse noted that both Subconnection and Damien’s are right across from Uncommon Grounds which offer deli sandwiches.
Also, though the beans that go into the coffee will be roasted at the store on Western Avenue, the coffee itself will be brewed in the Campus Center location. The layout will be similar to what Tim Horton’s was. People will line up to place their orders and there will be a seating area.
Pearse also noted that the UFood Grill was facing the same issues as Uncommon Grounds. Specialized equipment is needed for this location as well. However, this equipment is on the way also and the restaurant should be opening around the same time as Uncommon Grounds, though dates are not certain as of yet.
Pearse mentioned that he has gotten a lot of positive feedback from people about Uncommon Grounds being brought onto campus. Though there have been setbacks, the store will be opening soon. Pearse understands that the store is highly anticipated, and said that, “We’re working as quickly as we possibly can get it up and running.”