A Year Later
On January 11, 2010 Socrates Café officially opened for business. For those who have been around for a while and remember the old café with its greasy food, and its dingy, outdated interior, the new café came as a very welcomed campus addition. It gave students a well-lit, updated atmosphere with better food options and much more space. A year later, the café is thriving. Quite often throughout the day it is hard to find a spot to sit as the entire café is full. The patio has become a place where drum circles entertain on sunny days. The evenings are a perfect place to study, with the sounds of the water and the glow of the firepit light the night.
The 28,000 square feet of open space with indoor and outdoor seating, now employs 12 staff members plus some temporary help for the bigger events or for when people are on vacation. Run by Bon Appetit, whose company logo is “Food Services for a Sustainable Future,” the café boasts quality foods created from scratch as much as possible. According to their website, “Bon Appetite Management Company has become a model for what is possible in sustainable food service.” They were the first food service company to address the issues related to where and how the food is grown. In January, Bon Appetit reached its goal of contracting 1,000 ‘farm to fork’ farmers, a company initiative to buy locally.
Another aspect of Bon Appetit, Socrates Café and Life Univeristy is their commitment to recycling. Ron Williams, Assistant to the Executive Chef, is an avid recycler. He states that he first began recycling in 1994 in the workplace and it quickly became something he loves. Not only does he oversee the recycling done by the café, he also is actively involved in the recycling around campus. According to Williams, the school boasts a Somat machine in the café that recycles most of the material thrown into the garbage cans. (www.somatcompany.com) He states that the machine is able to mulch the plates, boxes, papers and leftover food into a useable mulch that is used throughout campus in the plants and trees. The garbage in the cans is sorted through and separated out daily, pushed down a conveyor type belt and into the machine where it is rotated at a high heat overnight. The heat dries out the materials and breaks them down into a sandy type composition that is put into the plants around campus. The Somat machine is able to decrease the waste produced by 50%, saving not only money, (up to $800 a month from the recycling companies alone,) but also to help do Life’s share in conserving energy and the environment. The machine is NOT currently able to process the cups and silverware used on campus, as it tends to jam the machine so to best recycle these items, put them in the blue recycling bins located near the garbage cans. There are also 35 new containers around campus for recycling of aluminum and plastic.
One issue that students have had with Socrates is that it closes down to convert the menu from breakfast to lunch. According to Williams, this time is necessary due to the very limited space within the café. He states, “Every corner of the restaurant is breakfast and lunch. Every corner is turned out and turned over.” All of the oatmeal containers are switched out for soups. The fruit bar is completely turned over to salads. The danish and muffins need to be fully switched to deli and grill items. Every square inch needs to be replaced. Bon Appetit determined that the best way to handle the transition is for a shut down during a not busy time, to help avoid risk and accidents and to make the transition as smooth as possible. During that time, Plato to Go is open for drinks, coffee and quick pick up foods. The prices in Plato have come down, with the grab & go sandwiches now being $.60 cheaper than before.
The café is currently open from 6:30am-9:30AM and 10:30AM-3:00PM Monday – Friday, with the seating area open until Midnight as well as noon-midnight on the weekend. Plato to Go is open 9:00 AM-1PM and 3-6PM Monday-Friday.
For more information on Bon Appetit and their commitment to sustainability, visit www.bamco.com Have a comment about this article? Come visit us on Facebook!