Malvern’s Cafe hopes to serve up new options for students

Malvern’s cafe, in the works since last year, hopes to offer students an enhanced alternative from what is currently being offered in Stewart Hall.

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Ben Franzone, Managing Editor

The implementation and creation of the cafe was no easy feat, with many faculty members and even alumni lending a hand on this new project. 

Head of School, Father Donald Reilly, expressed a common theme amongst school administrators in the decision to bring a cafe to Malvern’s campus.

“The Food Court (yet to be named) has a twofold anticipated effect on campus life,” Fr. Reilly said. “It will hopefully reduce the crowding in Stewart Hall during lunch and it will offer a [varied] selection of food and drink available at different times during the day for students.”

Concurrently, Assistant Head of School for Academics, Mr. Patrick Sillup, added to the hope of alleviating demand currently seen in Stewart Hall during the lunch block.

“I think one wonder was, ‘if we had a different food outpost, could it alleviate some of that pressure,’ then your conversation started to get to, ‘what do students want to see that isn’t currently offered,’” Sillup said. 

Located right off the main floor of the CSI, the cafe hopes to offer students a greater variety of options from coffee and tea in the morning to snacks, sandwiches and grab and go lunch options in the afternoon. 

“Back last spring we met with different classes, [we] met with juniors, but also with sophomores and freshmen, and middle schoolers, [wondering] what would they like to see and, some of the things that I think came up in those surveys were interesting,” Sillup said. “Some of the different options that came up during these discussions with each class were offering different types of coffee and tea as well as meeting everyone’s dietary interests,” he continued. 

Taking the students’ ideas to heart, the cafe will include a coffee station with Wawa branded hot and iced coffee sold daily, amongst other options. 

Ms. Chandra Williams, who has been working at Malvern Prep since 2006, will be overseeing the cafe on a daily basis and offers her insight as to what else students might be able to expect with the cafe. 

“It’s going to be kind of a combination of Starbucks, and a Wawa, so a little more upscale Wawa. A lot of things over there will be different than what is over in the cafeteria,” she said. 

Director of Dining Services for Malvern Prep, Mr. Tom Gray, has also played a role in the development of the cafe and agrees with Williams that students can expect a different variety in the cafe, than what is currently offered in Stewart Hall. 

“We’ll have breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and in the afternoons we’ll have hot and cold sandwiches, salads, all pre-made and ready to go,” Gray said. “We’re bringing in premium products like Boar’s Head lunch meat, [and] the buffalo chicken lunch meat, so we can expand what we’re offering,” he continued. 

Fr. Reilly feels that the cafe will bring with it a sense of ease for students and faculty with more members of the community utilizing other areas of campus to eat lunch. 

“The “grab and go” nature of the Food Court is attractive given the time it takes for the transaction and the accommodations we enjoy outside, particularly in good weather,” Fr. Reilly said.

Sillup alludes to a similar sentiment, recognizing the communal aspect that is heavily becoming a part of the new lunchtime environment. 

“Some of the silver linings I think of the pandemic were when we were eating lunch in different spaces. I think there was a nice community, and comfortable feel,” he said. 

The process of creating, designing and fulfilling the proposition of a cafe on campus, Sillup explained,  was a multi-step project, which even extended to a Malvern alumnus.  

“We actually worked with a Malvern alum named Michael Murphy ’87. He’s a designer, and he came out and sketched out a number of different ideas for us,” Sillup said. “But that’s just conceptual and then you start to get into the brass tacks of what can actually be done, ‘where is the water source,’ ‘what do we need to ensure from a code perspective to be a food service,’ and that’s where Mr. Kinney and Mr Gray get involved,” Sillup continued.  

In working with Murphy, Sillup mentioned something that he felt was important in the creation of the space. 

“One of the things that stuck with me and something I’ve really embraced is that the goal of the cafe was to allow someone to feel like they were walking off campus, even though they’re on,” Sillup said.

Williams, in particular, is excited for the cafe to open and to transition into her new role facilitating that space after devoting most of her time to Stewart Hall for the past several years. 

“I am so excited and looking forward to getting over there. I feel like it’s a new job and another opportunity for the boys and I to grow together,” Williams said. 

Having always gone out of her way to foster friendly relationships with the students, Williams hopes this space will be a place for everyone to utilize and enjoy. 

“My first hope is that it’s a place where the boys want to come and be one of their comfort spaces,” Williams said. “My expectation is that it just continues for years to come and is a space for the boys to come, get a snack and get a smile from me.”