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New England Students Welcome Grand Opening of Campus Coffee Shop

New England Students Welcome Grand Opening of Campus Coffee Shop

Posted: February 9, 2021

Tracy Student Center at Thomas Aquinas College, New England, has undergone several renovations over the past months, but students for the first time this week are enjoying one of the most recent and exciting additions to the space. On Sunday evening, a state-of-the-art coffee shop opened its doors to students, providing choice beverages and snacks to the community as well as affording a cozy spot for a conversation after class or a group study session. 

“I think this is definitely a great moment, where we can add another element to the student life that I think will really enhance the experience for the students who are here now and future classes of the College,” says Tim Cosgrove (’95), kitchen supervisor and head of food services on campus. “I’m just excited because that space has been in preparation all year. For it to finally be alive, and to hear the espresso grinders buzzing and the machines steaming, it will really be an additional draw for students to go down there.”

Student at the Tracy Coffee ShopLast summer, when College officials contemplated re-opening the campus for the academic year, they were mindful that — to protect against COVID-19 infection — students would need to remain on campus as much as possible. To that end, they moved to make Tracy Student Center a fun, desirable spot where friends could gather and socialize. Over the summer, workers carefully repainted the interior of the building and installed a handsome oak floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Thomas J. Kaiser, dean of the New England campus, sent out an email asking the College’s benefactors to help furnish the building.

Friends of the College responded generously. An anonymous couple from Greenwich, Connecticut, contributed $375,000 toward the building’s renovation. The family of S. Prestley Blake — an alumnus of the Northfield Mount Hermon school (which previously occupied the New England campus) and the founder of the Friendly’s restaurant chain — contributed funds for ice-cream-making equipment and a freezer. TAC parent Greg Simia provided the beloved espresso machine in memory of his late wife, Sandra, and countless others came forward with gifts for couches, pool tables, and other amenities.

Thanks to their support, the New England Coffee Shop is now open for business, offering several variations of espresso coffees and teas, as well as protein shakes, kombucha, and many other drinks and snacks. In the coming months, pizza, burgers, homemade ice cream, and other foods will also be available for sale.

Several members of the student body have been selected to staff the coffee shop, many of whom have previous experience working in similar settings. Tanner Sheffield (’23), who was the supervisor at a coffee shop near his home in California, is looking forward to standing behind the counter in Tracy on Monday evenings. “The coffee shop is going to be the glue that holds Tracy together, brings everyone there, and makes it a community hub,” he says. “So the first responsibility of the brewer is always being a friend to everyone that’s there and meeting them at the cash register with a smile.”

The campus community is elated to watch Tracy transform into a comfortable, attractive and popular spot on campus. “Since our classes utilize the Discussion Method, they really rely on students becoming better and better friends,” observes Resident Director Isaac Cross (’19). “Having a spot on campus where people can regularly go after class to spend time together and relax — I think students have been looking for that, and it will be nice to afford them a space to enjoy themselves.”