Coffee, food kiosk now open at Fintel Library

There's a new option for students in need of a caffeine boost at Roanoke College's primary studying hole.

CUPS on Campus, a new shop serving snacks, coffee, tea and other drinks, opened Monday inside Fintel Library's first floor lobby. Its opening marks the first day of spring semester classes at Roanoke and the first Salem location for coffee shop proprietor, Michelle Bennett.

In two years, Bennett has built a name for coffee service in Roanoke. She opened CUPS Coffee & Tea on Grandin Road in Southwest Roanoke in 2010. Last year, she also opened a second location on Brambleton Avenue in Roanoke County, but it closed within a few months.

A Roanoke College employee who frequents Bennett's Grandin Village shop suggested that the entrepreneur bring her coffee, tea and other food and drink offerings to campus, where the primary audience is approximately 2,217 students and faculty and at least 100 staff members. Bennett said she could not pass up the offer.

"It's a huge opportunity for us to take our brand into Salem at a low capital cost to us," she said.

The new shop will serve CUPS' own roasted coffee as well as java drinks specific to Roanoke College, such as a dark Rooney's Roast and a raspberry-flavored Maroon Mocha. Other menu options will include espresso, teas, Italian sodas and juices. 

Light snack foods and desserts, such as brownies and cookies made by Roanoke area vendors, also will be served.

Roanoke College is financing all construction materials and equipment for the new coffee business, said Stan Umberger, director of the library. The College has considered adding this kind of shop to the library for several years, he said.

Bennett said she's excited about catering her brand to different audiences.

"We're hoping to sort of grab student body, staff and faculty, but since the library is open to the public, it's the way to make the campus a destination," she said.

This week, construction crews added round bar tables and stools to several columns in the library's main floor as spots for patrons to sip coffee drinks and study. Food and drinks are allowed throughout the library's four floors.

CUPS will accept Maroon Cards, credit and debit cards and cash.

Bennett already has hired a manager for the shop and one other employee. She said she may hire additional staff.

The year-round business will be open during the library's busiest hours. Its hours will be Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 8  a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It will close on Saturdays. The morning hours specifically target Roanoke employees, Bennett said.

She may readjust the shop's hours. Opening times will be extended during exam weeks.

Along with food and drinks, CUPS may host a trivia night at the campus shop, similar to a popular Tuesday evening game event at its Grandin Village location, Bennett said.

Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful, undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just seven percent of colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review lists Roanoke as the 18th most beautiful campus in its "Best 376 Colleges" 2012 guidebook.

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Released: January 15, 2013
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