The Chobani Café introduced dairy-free yogurt alternatives following winter break as part of ongoing iterations to the Café as it enters its second semester in business at Colgate.
Beyond just the change in inventory and structured times for meal swipes, the Café has also undergone changes in management. The Café’s former manager, Bruce Hirsch, recently left his position with Chobani for the role of Head Chef at Colgate’s Theta Chi fraternity. William Cotter has since taken Hirsch’s role as Chobani Manager.
Following winter break, the Café introduced a coconut-based dairy-free yogurt, which comes in three flavors. Cotter said he, along with many members of the staff, are impressed by the dairy-free alternative recently launched by Chobani.
“Since our menu is dairy-based, we’re trying to see if this is something that’s working for us,” Cotter said regarding Chobani’s pilot of a dairy-free yogurt. “We’ve had good feedback so far.”
Chobani Café staff member Heidi Winton said she feels the Café’s rebrand from Hieber Café to Chobani had both negative and positive effects.
“You used to be able to talk to students and get an idea of their day,” Winton said. “But now there is no personability.”
Winton has been an employee at Colgate’s library Café for ten years. Although disappointed by the lack of meaningful interactions between students and staff due to the screen-based ordering system, Winton believes that Chobani’s menu offers a greater variety of options that are better catered to students’ desires.
Senior Alejo Soto agreed with Winton’s feelings on the new menu. The current menu offers a drink, a side and an entreé with each meal swipe. The entreé’s include sandwich, yogurt, acaí bowl and salad options. Their sides include soups, fruit and pastries, and drinks include a variety of coffee options as well as tea, lemonade and smoothies.
“I think the menu introduced by the Chobani Café is pretty diverse overall,” Soto said. “Although they could have made simpler meals, which would alleviate the occasional long wait time I experience.”
Junior Madeleine Phillips said that although she enjoys the variety of the new menu, she is disappointed that the Café has eliminated former items.
“I appreciate the concept of the new menu, but they overlooked old favorites such as muffins, croissants and larger drink sizes,” Phillips said.
Phillips added that she is not pleased with the limitations the Café has placed on the time period for meal swipes. Chobani offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night periods for which students on the unlimited meal plan get one swipe per each of the four daily meal periods.
“[It’s] pretty problematic to confine the times in which students can eat, which isn’t really fair since everyone is on their own schedule,” Phillips said.
In regards to management changes, Winton said the staff was pleased with Chobani’s recent addition of Cotter, previous Donovan’s Pub Manager.
“This semester we have a new manager who’s very thorough and very on top of things,” Winton said about Cotter. “He’s very committed and works well with everyone, which brings a positive cloud back to the Café.”
Winton said that she and the staff ideally would prefer a combination of the old Hieber Café and the new Chobani Café, where they could maintain the variety of food that Chobani brings, but the old “Hieber aspects of friendliness.”
Formerly called the Hieber Café, the Chobani Café in Case-Geyer Library is modeled after the Chobani yogurt brand and is the second one to open in the nation.