I have just finished a “regular”-sized sandwich from the Chobani café in the library. This was my maiden voyage down to the new Hieber, though I have walked past it many times and noted that it has been expanded and remade. I also read in the August 29 Maroon-News about the new café and I knew that as I was walking down from Lathrop that I was walking into SoHo, NYC, where there exists the first and only other Chobani café in the world —the prototype of our new library cafe. If you have not yet been to “SoHo on our hill” (SOOH), you might not want to go with a budget or an appetite. I mean this is not your average college fare, reader. All three of the sandwiches at the café come in two sizes, regular and large. I am not generally a “large” eater, so I cannot agree with these descriptions (though I suppose it does feel good to not be regular). I found this description misleading. The very pleasant woman who took my order accurately described for me the width of the bagel, but certainly not its depth. It is more like a bagel thin. Still I decided on the regular because, come on, why would I spend 10 dollars plus tax on a sandwich?
The sandwich was very tasty, but I did not think to time how long it took for me to make it disappear. Reader, it felt like a tease. A very short jaunt of the pleasurable kind. And consider the receipt—7.51 dollars and the aftertaste of satisfaction denied.
I should note that I read the menu carefully before I ordered. I considered many different configurations that would satisfy my hunger and not offend my pocket. I could have a small soup (and I could see the tiny cups) for 6 dollars plus, or a smoothie for 8 dollars plus, a small cup of coffee for 3 dollars!
I understand that students with meal plans can “swipe” at SOOH, though only once a mealtime. Though I do wonder, even with the limitations at SOOH, how the cost is absorbed. A meal consisting of a sandwich and a smoothie could easily total 17 dollars. Are meal plans more expensive because of SOOH? Have the options at the other eating venues suffered? For the students not on meal plans, I imagine that there are some who can afford to eat at SOOH, but the rest had better find their place elsewhere—some less pricey place in the City, a street or two left in Brooklyn and some parts of the Bronx. Surely the atmosphere and the pricelist at SOOH assures easy segregation along class lines for students and for faculty and staff.
I’m guessing that SOOH will see fewer faculty and staff than Hieber did. Unfortunately, there is no longer a nice place for the campus community at large to have a cup of something and a sweet or savory accompaniment at a reasonable price. My colleagues in the library must wonder at what the makers of SOOH think of them—expanding into their space to erect a place for this overpriced yogurt dynasty.
And woe to the lactose intolerant!
I know Chobani to be a very successful local company with excellent products. I buy them all the time—in the supermarket. But what we have invited onto our campus is not the local Chobani, it is rather the Chobani in its expensive city clothes. Surely this intrigues some, but to others it reads as unnecessarily exclusive and out of place.
Reader, who makes these decisions and how are they made? Is the only way to have good food on campus to bring New York City and its prices to us?