The Office of Religious Life, which provides the funding for the cafe, will cover the overhead costs of the expansion. Popularity will be the deciding factor in determining whether the cafe will remain open in the daytime, according to Dean of Religious Life Alison Boden.
“It’s not about money. We want [the cafe] to thrive,” Boden explained. “If the student staff tells us not enough people come to make this worth our time, we will listen to them. It’s really going to be their call.”
Event Coordinator for the Office of Religious Life Joanne Sismondo said that the cost of operating the cafe for three days a week in the afternoon would be small, though she added that she would like to see the cafe open its doors every afternoon.
The ORL currently spends about $13,000 annually to supply Murray-Dodge Cafe with baking ingredients and drinks, Boden said. The office covers all of the cafe’s costs except for student wages, which are split between the University and the federal government as part of the Federal Work-Study Program, according to Sismondo.
The student staff of the cafe has not yet decided if it will hire more workers to handle the increased hours, according to Dan Velasco ’13, one of the three student supervisors of the cafe.
“There’s a good chance that our current team will be able to carry this pretty easily,” co-manager Dylan Ackerman ’14 said.
Ackerman is also a member of The Daily Princetonian’s editorial board.
Sismondo originally suggested the idea of opening the cafe in the afternoons, Velasco explained. “The plan is to give students an additional space where they can just hang out, study, relax and enjoy some tea,” Velasco added.
The afternoon environment has been quieter than the typical night shift, Ackerman said, based on the two shifts he had worked during the new hours.
“During the day, it’s much more focused on reading and doing homework,” he said. “I think it’s a good combo to have it open as a study spot with cookies in the afternoon and as a social spot at night.”
About 15 students filled the basement cafe of Murray-Dodge last Wednesday afternoon — most studying or quietly chatting. “If I was in the mood that I needed to work somewhere quiet, it probably wouldn’t be ideal, but there’s less chatter than there is on weekends or at nighttime,” Damaris Miller ’15 said.
Murray-Dodge Cafe offers gluten-free cookies and vegan cookies on Sunday and Wednesday nights, respectively. Whether these options will extend into the afternoon remains unclear, Velasco said.
“Unfortunately, we can’t make a batch of gluten-free cookies and only have two of them eaten in an afternoon. You can only save cookie dough for so long,” Ackerman explained. “From that angle, we have to make sure we are not going to be wasting anything.”
The decision on whether Murray-Dodge Cafe will permanently expand its hours to include all afternoons, maintain its current afternoon schedule or revert to offering only night shifts will come in the next two weeks, according to Velasco.
“We’ll give it a couple of weeks, but I don’t anticipate there being any problem with keeping it open,” Sismondo said.
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