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September 20, 2017

Earthfoods cafe reopens their doors in the Hatch

(Jess Picard/ Daily Collegian)

Serving up a menu of “summer fresh pasta,” rice, kale and lavender vanilla cupcakes to vegetarians and vegans alike, Earthfoods Cafe reopened their doors for the first time since the end of the 2017 spring semester.

Now they will be whipping up their dishes in a more spacious and bright environment.

The cafe’s reopening on Monday, Sept. 11 not only served as a grand reopening, but also as a grand relocation, as the collectively student-run vegetarian and vegan restaurant moved from the ground floor of the University of Massachusetts Student Union to the Hatch, located in the basement of the Student Union.

Co-managers arrived at the new location at approximately 7 a.m. to prepare for the day and open their doors to customers at 11 a.m. However, in the summer, a small task force of Earthfoods co-managers had already begun working on the reopening. Tasks included relocating the cafe’s original equipment, buying and installing new equipment to the cafe and advertising the new location.

“It was an arduous process, and we’re seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Annie Higgins, a UMass senior public health major, who was on the task force and has been working at Earthfoods since she was a freshman. “It was tiring, but I feel really invigorated by the entire thing.”

According to Higgins, the relocation was initiated in the middle of last year, shortly after a conversation between the co-managers during which the pros and cons of changing the location were discussed.

“We decided to move, because we liked the windows in here, we thought it was a lot more space, it’s closer to Blue Wall, so we thought that the people who hadn’t really seen it before might get a chance, and we might widen the community,” Higgins said.

To further expand the community, Higgins also made mention of the possibility of hosting events at the cafe.

“We’re still in the planning stages, but we’re hoping that with this space we can do a lot of new, cool events to kind of bring people here. In the past, we’ve done poetry slams and things of that nature,” Higgins said.

For senior food science major Frank Martens, the relocation means an increased amount of space and more people walking through the cafe.

“There’s more foot traffic here, so a lot more people will find out about Earthfoods,” Martens said.

“It’s not fighting for a table, which is nice,” he added, recalling instances where he had to sit next to people he did not know because he could not find an empty table.

Martens — who works at Greeno Sub Shop, another student-run business on campus — used to come to Earthfoods occasionally as a sophomore. Since he moved off campus last year, he has been coming to the cafe more consistently, as purchasing healthy food from the cafe works well with his meal plan and allows him to support a student-run, cooperative business model.

“I feel like if I go to Blue Wall, all of a sudden I have a brick in my stomach after, so it feels nice to not feel like that,” Martens said. “[Earthfoods is] definitely healthier, definitely aligns more with my beliefs. It just works out.”

However, for Martens, being in the cafe’s new space was still an adjustment. He said, “It’s nice having window[s], but it still feels strange to me right now. Maybe that will change.”

“The other location had a lot of history and identity to it,” said Thomas Gregg, a sophomore natural resource and conservation major, who has been working at Earthfoods for two semesters and was serving kale and rice to customers at the reopening.

But despite his fond memories of the previous location, Gregg agreed with his coworkers that the new location would provide more space and potentially be more inviting to customers.

“I just hope we can recreate the culture the old room held for us, because it was really warm and inviting,” Gregg said, adding that, while hoping to expand their business, it is not a priority for the co-managers.

“We don’t want to deviate too much. We want to keep it comforting and keep it Earthfoods.”

Jackson Cote can be reached at jkcote@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @jackson_k_cote.

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