Murray-Dodge Café will be housed in the Carl A. Fields Center on Prospect Avenue during the 2015-16 academic year, Office of Religious Life Operations and Events Coordinator Joanne Sismondo said.
The entire Murray-Dodge building, which dates to 1900, is undergoing significant renovations in order to satisfy fire code regulations and become handicapped accessible, Sismondo said, noting that there will be handicap-accessible bathrooms in the basement and on the second floor, and an elevator that will go to all levels of Murray-Dodge Hall.
“Smoke alarms will be going in, and sprinklers, and all that 21st century kind of stuff,” Dean of Religious Life Alison Boden said.
The Office of Religious Life, also housed in Murray-Dodge Hall, has temporarily relocated to Green Hall. Sismondo noted that the renovations will be complete in June 2016, at which point both the Murray-Dodge Café and the Office of Religious Life will move back to Murray-Dodge Hall.
Though many aspects of the café remain the same, the café will only be available from 9 p.m. to midnight daily instead of being open from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. daily, student baker Mohamed El-Dirany ’18 said.
Lucinda Pastora ’18, also a baker at Murray-Dodge Café, noted that the storage facilities are slightly different in the Fields Center as opposed to the original café. In addition, she said, the oven is smaller and the bakers don’t have the same large trays they previously utilized.
Murray-Dodge Café Supervisor Alex Cuadrado ’16 explained that the new kitchen setup has been hardest to adapt to, primarily because now the bakers only have one oven rather than two. However, the oven is newer and much faster, Cuadrado noted, so the bakers are adjusting well.
The kitchen is also clearly separated from the café area, something that was not the case in the previous location. Now the kitchen is not visible to the students, and no one except the bakers is typically allowed in. El-Dirany explained that allowing students to keep going in and out of the kitchen would overcrowd it, so it is much easier to only have the bakers in there.
El-Dirany noted that the general crowd of people who frequent the café has altered slightly, though not to a large degree.
“I don’t see most of the people who were here last year,” El-Dirany said."Now it’s mostly waves of people, and you don’t really see people who come in alone."
El-Dirany added that the atmosphere has also changed somewhat, though this may shift again as the year progresses.
“It’s definitely not as much of a hipster vibe as you would have gotten in the old place, but it’s an interesting feel,” El-Dirany added.
Both Pastora and El-Dirany said they were grateful to the Fields Center for allowing them to use the building for the café. Pastora noted that if the Fields Center had not offered them the space, Murray-Dodge Café might have had to shut down entirely for a year until renovations were completed. She noted that the center gives the café about four hours every night, which is a significant commitment considering how many other events the Fields Center puts on.
Boden noted that due to the location change, Murray-Dodge Café now has a new partnership with the Fields Center.
“They were really welcoming and delighted to have the café move over there,” she said. “It’s a really different ambience, but it’s kind of conducive to the kind of community and setting that we want.”
Boden added that she hopes the relationship between the café and the Fields Center will continue even after the café moves back to Murray-Dodge Hall.
“In a way, it’s bringing together two sides of campus,” Cuadrado said."I’ve always said that the Murray-Dodge Café is the kindest place on campus, and I think that the Fields Center is also one of the kindest places on campus, and bringing them together is really great."
Pastora noted that despite this, the bakers do miss some elements of the original Murray-Dodge Café, primarily the sense of belonging.
“That was our own space,” she said."Here, we’re borrowing this space and are like visitors. We take what they give us and are very grateful for it, but of course everyone is going to miss their own space."
The general ambience and appearance of Murray-Dodge Hall will remain the same after renovations, Boden explained. She added that the goal of the renovators is to keep as much of the old Murray-Dodge architecture and feel as possible, because the warm and cozy atmosphere is important to maintain.
“We love it and we miss it,” Boden said."It’s home. It’s going to be better than ever — we can’t wait to be back."
Murray-Dodge Hall, the original location of Murray-Dodge Café, is located near East Pyne Hall, between Elm Drive and Washington Road.