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KGI Celebrates Ribbon Cutting for First On-Campus Cafe

Flickr Photo Album: KGI Café Ribbon Cutting

Monday, March 20, 2017, the first day of spring, and Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) was spry with students returning from spring break to a new and unfamiliar scene, the ribbon cutting of the on-campus KGI Café.

The ribbon cutting was scheduled to start at noon, but organizers of the event could not keep out students, who all eagerly wanted a glimpse of the new space. Comments such as, “It’s so nice; it’s like a Whole Foods,” could be heard as students walked through the unopened café like it was a museum exhibit.

At noon, there were hundreds of students, faculty, and staff crowded in the hallway waiting to see the new space, as well as enjoy the free desserts and beverages, re-usable KGI-branded coffee sleeve giveaway items, and a chance at raffle prizes. A DJ started the music as the guests were let into the new space.

The café space has a two-story layout. The bottom floor includes well- designed posters featuring students and inspiring verbiage on the walls, warm lighting from attractive fixtures, eatery-style seating, fresh salad- bar chillers and entrée warmers, refrigerated “grab and go” food choices, and endless beverage options.

“As we transition into becoming a residential campus, this café plays a key role in our students feeling at home,” KGI President Sheldon Schuster said. “In KGI’s dynamic, fast-paced learning environment, it is critical that our students, faculty, and staff are able to take advantage of a campus center where they can eat, socialize, study, and network.”

Guests noticed and discussed nuances and unique details like the DNA strand that was hand carved into the floor, leading customers from the main entrance to the outside shaded patio that offers more seating.

“We are thrilled that the KGI community is already enjoying this space,” said Sofia Toro, the dean of student engagement and enrollment services. “Our faculty and staff members are passionate about student success and we are excited to be able to provide this much-needed addition to our growing campus.”

The space is completed by a swanky upstairs lounge that overlooks the ground level and includes upscale furniture, art, and seats with built-in outlets for charging computers and other electronic devices, as well as a student study space. Danielle Tessier, a second-year PharmD student, shared her excitement, “We finally have the study space that we’ve been looking for.”

The surroundings of the study lounge seemed swanky, but a closer look revealed there was more to the interior design. Students and professor Alexander Zambon were overheard analyzing the art, as if they were in a gallery. The conversation unveiled that what looked like abstract and brightly colored modern art was actually microscopic images of neurons, red blood cells, vasculature, and even a slice of the brain.

The new café will be managed and operated by Bon Appétit, a company that manages other Claremont Colleges food service venues and has an existing catering relationship with KGI. One staff member who has been very involved with the café project is Finance Operations Manager Erin Quillen. As part of her role, Quillen oversees the area of food services.

In order to realize the dream of a KGI café, staff and contractors worked tirelessly toward their goal. The project lasted nine months.

During Monday’s event, there was an official ribbon cutting in front of the main entrance, where student government representatives held and cut the teal ribbon with giant gold scissors while Deans Steve Casper and Kathy Webster stood to the left of the ribbon and Dean Sofia Toro and Vice President of Finance and Operations Michael Jones to the right.

In addition to the ribbon cutting, Tessier and Poonim Daya, a second-year MBS student, called the numbers of three raffle tickets, which awarded student recipients with either a $25 or $50 gift certificate to the café.

According to Daya, not having a place on campus for studying causes students to study off campus, and they miss out on building and strengthening relationships with fellow students. “The café is a good space where students can get together and form bonds, instead of going off campus,” said Daya.

Tessier put it simply, “Food brings everyone together. Always.”

During its debut at the ribbon cutting ceremony, the KGI Café has already been successful at bringing KGI together.