Given the choice between a warm scone and a cold one, most students would opt for the former.
This is the idea behind the recent expansion of JE Room Service, a student-run baking company that delivers fresh pastries to students’ rooms on Saturday mornings. While JE Room Service — which began last spring — has only delivered to Jonathan Edwards and Calhoun Colleges in the past, mini-franchises will be opening in five residential colleges in the coming weeks.
“It’s more about spreading a food gospel and a love of food,” said JE Room Service founder Hall Rockefeller ’16. “Room Service is just one expression of that.”
Earlier this semester, Rockefeller — a student in JE — reached out to other food-related student groups and residential colleges asking if students were interested in starting their own franchises. Subsequent meetings turned out volunteers from Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Berkeley and Davenport. Rockefeller herself will now be busy running the umbrella company, to be renamed simply Room Service, but she is hopeful that a replacement JE team will rise up in the near future.
Though each new franchise will have a degree of autonomy, Rockefeller said certain things will remain consistent throughout the Room Service brand. Each franchise will use the company name and the same pre-brunch Saturday morning delivery schedule, as well as offering Room Services’ signature banana bread and carrot cupcakes.
Rockefeller said she is glad to see so much interest in the expansion of her company. As a freshman, she struggled to find outlets to bake through campus organizations, she said.
“[Food] is something that people come to Yale enthusiastic about and then can’t find an outlet for,” Rockefeller said. “That was one of my problems. So much of my mind was engaged, but I didn’t have a space for physical creativity.”
The head baker of each franchise must receive approval from his or her college master before baking can begin, as scheduling kitchen time for preparation of the food on Friday nights can be competitive. General Room Service advertising will be handled by Rockefeller, though each college is free to publicize internally. Rockefeller said she also plans to give each franchise a “starter package,” complete with packaging materials and some money, until the franchise can be self-sustaining.
Melia Bernal ’17, who is planning a Silliman franchise, said baking is a way of bringing people together. She said it would be fun to have the same group meet each weekend and to come up with “signature Silliman goods.”
“I want to make people happy on a Saturday morning when they are hungover and all they want are carbs and sugar,” Bernal said.
Colleen Flynn ’16 said she heard positive reviews of Room Service last spring and plans to start her own franchise in the organization in Timothy Dwight after kitchen renovations in the college are complete. Flynn added that she hopes to craft her menu seasonally, including pumpkin scones for the fall and holiday-themed items later in the semester.
Calhoun student Clara Yang ’17 said baking is her way of relaxing and that she hopes to launch her college’s franchise in mid-October.
“Baking is how I de-stress and I am excited to have scheduled de-stressing time at the end of each week,” Yang said. “I am hoping to add some classic grandma’s cinnamon buns. Super simple, but so good.”
Room Service launched in the first week of the 2014 spring semester.