New look for Cafe Cheray

Community Cornerstone replaced with vending machines

picture of cafe
Madeline Shanley ’23 looks inside the vending machine, debating what to get on Sept. 19.

Casey Arsenault | Staff Writer |

You open the door to the café. A big white vending machine named “Vicki” stands to the left of the room. There is a screen near the handle instructing you to insert your card. Around the room you can see signs that say, “suggestions” and “coming soon.” After inserting or tapping your card, the door unlocks. You open the refrigerator and inside are pastries, sandwiches, salads and drinks. Whatever you take out the machine tracks. When you close the door it charges the money to your card.

     Before this semester, students may remember the café filled with baskets of pastries, juice, energy drinks in the cooler, pre-made sandwiches and coffee available to order. A Sodexo worker was present, ready to scan the items.

     Café Cheray is not the only location on campus with one of these futuristic vending machines. Another machine is located in Ross-Tarrant for students to access.

     Community members have expressed strong feelings towards the change. “Each person in the philosophy department was really bummed, really shocked, and really upset,” Professor Standen said.

Director of Dining at Saint Michael’s, Brian Roper posted a letter from Sodexo inside Café Cheray informing people on why the changes have been made. The café has had a steady decline in sales since 2017. Sodexo needed more workers in Alliot but to keep Café Cheray in working order, the vending machine is their best solution. “I don’t think it is an evil plot to make money for Sodexo,” Standen said, “But now we have a sing-songy computer voice machine, that I do think makes a less human world.”

  Katherine Kirby, associate professor of Philosophy, also expressed her concerns about the changes.  “I think we need more human connection coming out of the pandemic, not less, “ Kirby said, “it seems to me that we’re all yearning for community, and person-to-person daily interaction.  Café Cheray was a place where that happened, every day.  Now it feels cold and sterile.  I miss it tremendously, and I especially miss Sanka.”

     The Café area isn’t the only thing that has changed. The space is now open all the time. Liv Filmore ’25 is a big supporter of this. “It is quick and convenient, especially when I’m coming back from rugby practice and need something before starting homework,” Filmore said.

This also benefits the school’s graduate students since Einsteins closes at 2:00 pm and Alliot does not prepare dinner until 4:00 pm. “Before this there was no place on campus for them to grab a quick bite to eat,” said Professor Jeffery Trumbower, Vice President for Academic Affairs.

     “I understand this is not what many are used to, but it is what we must do so we don’t have to completely close this location,” said Roper in the letter inside Cafe Cheray. Sodexo is currently in the process of redesigning the space with a fresh food vending machine and a fresh self-serve Starbucks machine. Due to manufacturing issues it is unclear when the Starbucks machine will arrive on campus. At the end of the letter, Roper encourages suggestions to be made for what vending machine should be stocked with.