The Cardinal Cafe pictured shortly after its reopening on Sept. 13. The cafe reopened after a year and a half of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. | Photo courtesy: Asar John
By Asar John
York’s campus community welcomed the return of the Cardinal Cafe, contracted by MBJ Food Services, on Mon. Sept. 13, with the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the sight of colorful pastries.
“We’re sorry that it couldn’t happen at the beginning of the school year, but we’re excited to have food on campus for everyone to have and we’re going to continue to try to populate the campus with everything that everybody needs,” said York College President Berenecea J. Eanes.
The first two customers to patronize the cafe since its closing in March of 2020 were York staff members; Manager of Marketing and Design Kenny Beck and College Assistant Laura Pugliese. Pugliese said she was “thrilled” that the cafe is back up and running.
“Being able to have hot coffee and not bring it from home,” said Pugliese, when asked what she was looking forward to about the presence of the cafe.
“All we were really wanting was coffee, so they had what we needed today,” said Beck. “I’d give them a chance to actually open before I judge them on food and other stuff.”
For York freshman Cole Alsol, Monday was his first time at the cafe and he said having access to fresh food and beverages on campus is a lot more convenient than walking down the block to Chipotle for a meal.
“Knowing that the cafeteria is open is like a relief because it’s a drag having to eat outside, walking all the way to Jamaica Ave,” said Alsol, an Aviation Management major. “For now, snack-wise, it’s great for pastries but nothing to fill you up.”
The announcement of the reopening came the day before on Sept. 12, via York News, stating that the cafe would be available by 11 a.m., although things were not up and running until 1 p.m.
“I think it was just the first day, there were just a few things and we wanted to get everything right,” said the director of MBJ Food Services, Aldana Vasques. “We wanted to get the lightbulbs replaced, the plexiglass, the internet for the registers,” said Vasques. “Everyone was trying their best, truly, to make it happen today.” She added that the pastries for the cafe were sent to the wrong location, placing another hiccup to the reopening.
“There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make food service happen,” said Vasques. “Open dialogue is key to establishing a successful relationship with both the college and the students we serve.”
On its first day this semester the cafe carried hot and iced coffee, bottled beverages, pastries such as danishes, muffins and donuts and fruit bowls as a healthier option. Vasques said there could be a wider selection in the future, but as of now, it is still difficult to gauge what is needed.
“What we were serving pre-pandemic was working,” said Vasques, who mentioned the cafe carried salads, sandwiches, yogurts and other snacks that were once available. “We would like to continue on that path and see if we could even expand further down that road and maybe bring a hot press and do paninis. But again, a lot of that will be dictated by how many people are actually on campus and what activity we see.”
The Cardinal Cafe will operate from 8 AM to 5 PM Monday through Thursday and 8 AM to 2 PM on Fridays. On days where no classes are scheduled, such as holidays, the cafe will operate on a Friday schedule.