UPDATE: Lunt Café will open its doors Friday, April 13.
In March of last year, Bernie Chung-Templeton, Bi-Co Director of Dining Services, took a look around Lunt Café, having heard troubling “comments and innuendoes” about the late-night, student-run snack bar for two years.
It wasn’t pretty.
“What I discovered was outdated food, sanitation issues, mold in a lot of the food storage areas,” said Chung-Templeton. “My first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe nobody’s died or had a really serious problem.’…‘Died’ might be a little dramatic, but that someone hasn’t gotten really, really sick from eating here.”
If a health inspector had seen the same things, “it would have implicated the DC, the Coop, all the places Haverford College is licensed to serve food,” Chung-Templeton said. “You might never have gotten a license to reopen a student café like that, so it’s good we caught it ourselves and fixed it.”
According to Chung-Templeton, it was clear that more than a quick fix would be necessary to get Lunt up to code, and the café was shut down. “It was more than just a cleaning issue. They didn’t have the setup to do the job properly.”
One year and $63,362.22 later, Lunt Café is almost ready to reopen.
“We’re in the very, very last stages,” said Sara Taggart ’13, one of Lunt Café’s three student managers. Although there is no date set for the reopening, Taggart says that all that is left is for a “a health inspector to come and hopefully say that we can open right away.”
After shutting down Lunt last year, Chung-Templeton, the Lunt Café managers, Director of Facilities Management Ron Tola, and other administrators and students “started the process of trying to redefine: what should it be, what does it need to be?” said Chung-Templeton.
The café moved to the basement of Lunt Hall from Comfort Hall, where it had been called “Three Rivers Café,” in 1982. Since then it evolved into a grungy, late-night student hangout spot.
Throughout the process of renovating Lunt Café, much emphasis has been placed on making sure it still feels like a student spot, even if, for health reasons, some of the qualities that led to its grungy reputation had to be done away with.
The issue students were most vocal about, according to Taggart, was that the café remained in its old location in the basement of Lunt.
To make sure it does not fall into disrepair, there is now, on top of the café’s first-ever health inspection, a “more clear operations manual, opening and closing procedures…just a lot of systems in place that will make it easy to maintain cleanliness,” said Taggart.
One new policy of the café is that the food will now arrive on refrigerated trucks, as is the case with food served at the DC and the Coop. In the past, students picked up groceries themselves at Costco.
Haverford staff, especially Coop manager Geoffrey Labe, will mentor the operators of the café.
“My role is just an advisor to maintain the health code in Lunt Café and to help with other operational items when asked,” said Labe.
The café is “still totally student-run,” added Taggart. Still, information about how to safely and effectively run Lunt will be welcome, since it was a lack of information that led to the problems in the first place. “Obviously, if we had ever thought that we were putting students at risk, we would have reassessed the situation immediately, but students always gave incredibly positive feedback about the food and the atmosphere of the café,” said Taggart.
According to Tola, much of the money spent on the project went toward extensive electrical work, since the entire space was rearranged; outside contractors; new tiles and cabinets; and equipment, including a $4006.25 coffee machine.
ABOVE: Lunt Café received $63,362 of renovation, according to Director of Facilities Management Ron Tola (photo by Danny Rothschild).