Art history students can soon dash out of class, buy a cup of coffee and make it back before the next slide — all without leaving the building.
Willoughby’s, a local gourmet coffee chain with a branch on Church Street, is set to open a new location on the ground floor of the Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art near the corner of York and Chapel streets. Although students said they thought the branch could be successful, many added that the absence of Flex point compatibility could hurt business.
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”11788″ ]
Lori O’Connell, manager of real estate for University Properties, described the process of finding a tenant for the building as more of a courtship than a search.
“Willoughby’s liked the location and actively pursued the opportunity to be located there,” she said. “They are a premium coffee operation and certainly meet our standards of tenant excellence.”
This is the second Willoughby’s to turn up on York Street; the first closed about seven years ago in a storefront near Toad’s Place.
In an interview with the News last month, Willoughby’s co-owner Bob Williams said the new location further down the street is “perfect,” though the smaller space will force them to cut back on the chain’s core business of whole-bean sales.
“It is a much smaller space,” he said. “If you go into any of our stores now, you will see container after container of beans. It will be a challenge to stay true to what we have created in our other locations.”
O’Connell said she hopes the coffee shop will integrate the academic building with the rest of the downtown area, referring to the cafe as “a public venue.”
But several students said they wished the new coffee shop would embrace its place as a student-focused business — one that follows in the tradition of Bass Library’s Thain Family Café — by accepting Flex points.
Said Jared Wigdor ’11: “Around the corner is a Starbucks, and down the block is Publick Cup, but the closest coffee place that takes flex points is now Bass Library Café.”
Aashish Manchanda ’11 had similar concerns but said the new Willoughby’s convenient location and quality product is a fair trade off.
“Yale should require all of its tenants to take Flex Points and bursar charges, but that won’t stop me from going there,” he said. “I am looking forward to having good coffee just steps away from my room.”
Flex point and bursar charges are primarily accepted at Yale Dining Services facilities; YDS Executive Director Rafi Taherian said he was not contacted about being a possible tenant of the space.
Nevertheless, some students said they are convinced the new location will be successful.
“They will do really well with all of the Art and Architecture students who stay late in their studios,” Kayla Matheus ’11 said.
The new Willoughby’s is set to open by the end of the year, O’Connell said.