Coffee bar finds home in Mercer lobby
January 27, 2010

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Mercer Hall’s main lobby now has the appearance – and aroma – of a cafe, complete with pastries and a variety of drinks from a coffee kiosk.


Students wait at the coffee kiosk while their drinks are prepared.
Vice President for Enrollment Management Michael Sapienza said the change in focus for the space came as college officials realized the lobby was not serving well its primary purpose of welcoming visitors to campus.

“The lobby is not the main entrance to Mercer except for those of us who know our way around campus,” he said. “Visitors use the door from the parking lot. Otherwise, the lobby was a pass-through area. It is one of the most-trafficked places on campus, but there was no reason to stop.”


With that in mind, the receptionist’s desk was moved to the first-floor entrance area, a kiosk was installed near the doors to the Triangle, a storage area was constructed, and both café seating and sofas were installed in the area.


“That has changed the dynamics of the space,” Mr. Sapienza said. “It makes the lobby a more inviting place to stop.”


Mercer Hall's "main lobby" now is an inviting space for
the college family to gather and enjoy a cup of coffee.


Already students have learned that they can grab an inexpensive cup of coffee and a pastry on their way to or from class, beginning at 7:30 a.m., or pay a little more for a cappuccino or latte. The kiosk is open until 4:30 p.m. and may be opened later for special events if arrangements are made with Pioneer College Caterers, Bryan’s food service vendor and kiosk operator.


The relationship with Pioneer also offers students the opportunity to post payment to their ID card and pay for drinks with a swipe through the card reader.


Mr. Sapienza said a contest is under way for students to suggest names for the new area, with the final selection to be made by the administration.*


“We can already see students getting together and working here,” Mr. Sapienza said. “It is already successful in that regard. But we’ll define things better as we work through the early days.”

  • 2.15.10: Alaina Woodall & Amanda Young won the kiosk naming contest for their winning entry, COMMON GROUNDS
  • Fall 2011: Common Grounds became an official Starbucks Coffee venue.