Smells like the big time: Starbucks enhances upscale campus vibe
By Cooper Nelson and Michael Ferraresi
GCU News Bureau
Ask any student about the biggest news on the Grand Canyon University campus in 2013, and you’ll get a one-word answer: Starbucks.
The Seattle-based coffee giant officially opened for business today, joining Subway and Chick-fil-A as the newest eateries on campus, and 45 students already were in line when it did. Hours of operation are from 6:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily. A formal grand opening is scheduled for Monday, when gift cards will be distributed throughout the day.
The 6,000-square-foot store takes up half of the second floor of the refurbished Student Union. The location includes 188 seats inside and 15 seats on outdoor balconies. While it’s on the larger side, it is not one of the largest in the country, as previously characterized by some at the University.
The Student Union Starbucks becomes the eighth Arizona college campus store, joining Arizona State University (four), Northern Arizona University (two) and a new store at the University of Arizona.
GCU’s Starbucks will function like any location and will stay current with Starbucks specials and seasonal products. The store can be accessed via the stairs or by two elevators located on the north side of the building facing Hegel Hall.
Students can order coffee or food through two lines, including an express line for quick orders. Customers also can order via mobile tablets manned by one of 20 employees.
Starbucks began accepting student meal cards today. Free wi-fi also is available.
The other half of the second floor includes a student social/study area with couches, chairs and a 14- by 8-foot TV that can be used as a wall-size screen or four smaller screens. The area also includes nearly 200 seats and six additional TVs throughout the open lounge area.
Kristen Fraley, GCU’s food services manager, said the Starbucks enhances the “big school” feel of campus.
“This is the first year we’ve had established brands on campus,” said Fraley, who admitted to drinking Starbucks at least once a day. “There is just something about being on a college campus and seeing familiar places (as a student).
“It’s taking us in the right direction of looking like a (Division I) university.”
Latest in coffee evolution
Coffee shops on campus have evolved in stride with University growth and serve as a visual metaphor of GCU’s ascension.
Latte Dah — a cozy yet limited and generic coffee shop in an earlier version of the Student Union — was the first coffee supplier on campus. Jazzman’s, which was run by Sodexo Food Services, took over in 2011 when campus eateries moved to the food court-like Thunder Alley. But Jazzman’s lacked the relaxed coffeehouse atmosphere that made Latte Dah popular.
“It’s cooler to have Starbucks over Jazzman’s,” said Jordan Garvey, a sophomore exercise science major, who plans to visit the new Starbucks.
“Last year, we had a lot of generic stuff, and that just got old.”
GCU graduate Bryan Mauss understands campus coffee perhaps better than anyone at the University.
Mauss, 27, graduated with a Christian studies degree in 2011 while serving as the de facto shift manager at Jazzman’s. Before that, he worked at Latte Dah.
Mauss joined Starbucks this summer as manager of the Student Union location, where he will supervise 11 student “barristi.” In his past campus coffee gigs, Mauss left his home in Mesa as early as 4 a.m. to open shop. But he expects to have a later shift so he can monitor business from morning into early evening.
“Obviously, as the morning starts and classes get going, it becomes really intense,” Mauss said. “It’s easily one of the busiest times of the day. As it tapers off toward lunch and early afternoon, I think the traffic will naturally go down a little bit.”
Other construction projects
In addition to Starbucks, GCU has several ongoing construction projects on campus:
— A 37,000-square-foot classroom building similar in design to the College of Arts and Sciences is planned for the spring. The building is located north of CAS, on what formerly was the grassy area between the Promenade and the Bookstore.
— The student Library, located on the third and fourth floors of the Student Union, will finalize its expansion by October.
— Remodeling projects at the executive offices (Building 3), Fleming Library, the alumni relations/online education building (Building 1), and the provost/university relations building (Building 2) are expected to be completed around Christmas.
— Construction on a new apartment complex will begin next August. The complex will be located on the north half of the parking lot beside Sedona Hall. Parking displaced by construction will be moved to the Colter parking lot, located at 3035 W. Colter St., just east of Sedona. Half of the new parking lot is completed, and the other half is expected to be finished within the next couple weeks.
While the campus is ever-expanding, student excitement seems to be firmly fixed on Starbucks. Expect a freshly roasted, nutty fragrance to waft across campus and seep into classrooms — with long lines stretching down the stairs and around the Union.
“I think it’s awesome, personally,” said Blake Harris, 19, a freshman studying athletic training. “I mean, it’s Starbucks. Who doesn’t like Starbucks?”