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One café gets a new look, while another closes

The sun peaks at the horizon, and shines through the Quad at Washington State University Vancouver. On the main level of the Dengerink building, there is a ruckus in the dining hall. Under-caffeinated voices chatter, pots clamor, an espresso machine whirs and the scent of melting cheese alerts the customer that someone’s appetite is about to be satisfied. Over the summer some equipment within the cafeteria was updated, and it received some entirely new additions. But across campus, it’s a different story: the cafe in the Firstenburg Student Commons will remain closed for budgetary reasons, says its manager.

The new features in the VanCougar Cafe may be subtle, but they do improve the functionality of the space. Bill Bontems, manager of the cafeteria and catering, explained the updates saying, “We installed new marble countertops, stainless espresso bar, floor tiles in the register area and coffee and soda storage. Also, 16 outlets with USB ports on the north side of the dining room were installed.”

Some students observed the renovations with a keen eye. Nazar Stelmakh, a junior majoring in computer science, said, “I noticed the new outlets. Everybody [fights] for the outlet in the corner.”

Other students did not immediately notice the changes. Daniel Maida, a junior majoring in computer science, said, “I haven’t noticed much except for the new ceiling and more lighting.”

While the cafeteria is newly remodeled, the Commons Cafe has been closed indefinitely. The counter in the corner of the Commons has operated on and off for several years.

However, “labor costs [are] rising and it’s hard to justify paying more in labor than we are bringing in revenue,” Bontems said. “We can hopefully do more exciting specials and [cultural dishes] with the extra savings in labor.”
Whether you are looking to have a bite or just chat with fellow VanCougs, the vibe is always welcoming at the cafeteria. The hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday. Be sure to stop by and try new specials such as Wazoodle bowls or hand-tossed pizza on Wednesdays.

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