New café for Science Hill

Yale Dining plans to spice up Kline Biology Tower with the scent of roasting coffee this spring.

Administrators said they hope an expanded version of the existing café on the first floor of Kline Biology Tower will open next semester. Dining has been limited on Science Hill since budget issues caused Yale to close the School of Management’s Donaldson Commons at the start of the year, forcing many to eat at the food carts along Prospect Street, bring their own meals or trek to Silliman or Commons.

The Kline Biology Tower café will serve food all day starting in the spring.
The Kline Biology Tower café will serve food all day starting in the spring.

“We know we need a better dining facility for people on Science Hill, because the closest place for undergraduates is Silliman College,” Deputy Provost Lloyd Suttle said. “It’s going to be quite nice. It’s going to be an enhanced grab-and-go.”

While the current café offers a limited selection of drinks, sandwiches, snacks and lunch items, the new café will have a greater variety of options, said Thomas Tucker, Yale Dining’s director of retail operations and business development. The facility will also roast Yale-blend coffee on-site for a “full sensory experience,” Tucker said, adding that details of how the café will fit into Yale Dining meal plans remain undetermined.

In addition to filling a gap in dining options on Science Hill, Provost Peter Salovey said the expanded café will give faculty a gathering place and save students a long trip for meals.

“Students who are spending the better part of their day on Science Hill would like to be able to eat without coming off the hill,” Salovey said. “This is an attempt to address those challenges without having to build a new building.”

Ziegler, who usually brings a brown-bag lunch to Science Hill, said he would likely use the developed Kline Biology Tower venue when it opened. Right now if he forgets his lunch, Ziegler said, he just eats at the food carts.

Pre-med student Alejandro Torres ’12 said he goes up Science Hill three to four times each week, and currently considers eating at the carts or swiping at the small Kline Biology Tower café his only lunch options.

“If they expanded the café at Kline Biology Tower, that would be fantastic because the options right now are very limited,” Torres said. “If they do that, they have to make it known, because I feel like a lot of the students who do go up Science Hall don’t really know about KBT.”

When it was built in the 1960s, Kline Biology Tower contained a dining room on the top floor, Suttle said, but the venue was closed a few years ago because it was underutilized. Frederick Ziegler, professor emeritus and chemistry lecturer, said a number of faculty used to meet and talk in the old dining room, although it was “somewhat isolated.”

Still, that now-out-of-use space has made expanding the first floor dining area feasible. The new cafeteria will take the place of classrooms occupied by the Biology Department, which will in exchange receive the old top-floor dining area, Suttle said. The new café will provide all-day dining but not stay open late, as Kline Biology Tower closes at night, Suttle said.

Plans to enlarge the Kline Biology Tower dining capacity have been in the works since last spring, Suttle said, when administrators realized something would need to replace Donaldson Commons. Yale hired an architect this summer to design the project.

Kline Biology Tower houses the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Department.

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