This article originally appeared in College Services.
Dining programs across the country are constantly seeking new concepts and partners to provide popular yet profitable services to students. But what happens when tasked with recruiting a new vendor, negotiating a contract, implementing a renovation plan and hosting a grand opening, all within 60 days? W&M Dining installed a Greenberry’s Coffee Co.
After plans with a national concept fell through in the late stages of negotiations, Associate Director of Auxiliary Services John J. Byxbe was left to seek funding and start from scratch on a much-needed change in the Swem Library within 60 days.
“Swem Library is the hub of campus and students had been asking for a new café for some time. We promised them a new concept, and were obligated to deliver on that promise,” Byxbe said.
Choosing a Sustainable Vendor
W&M Dining chose to install a Greenberry’s Coffee Co. due primarily to the Charlottesville-based company’s serious commitment to high-quality sustainable products – a belief that is of the highest priority to the campus community. The company, founded in 1992 roasts their coffee in Charlottesville and ships it to ensure arrival during the peak of freshness.
“We had spoken with Greenberry’s some time ago about joining campus but the timing had never been right. When this opportunity became available, everything just fell into place,” said Matt Moss, Director of W&M Dining, an Aramark program.
The second component to being a successful partner on campus was to ensure sustainability from a business perspective. “We needed assurance that this partnership could be a long-term one and that Greenberry’s would be successful on campus. That included offering the right product mix at an attractive price point and Greenberry’s assured us that they could meet that obligation,” Byxbe said.
Said Sean Simmons, President of Greenberry’s Coffee Co, “we were willing to do almost anything to make this partnership a success.”
Divide and Conquer
Once the contract was finalized, the team set to work. In order to break the project into smaller, manageable tasks, each one was assigned to a work group. The Facilities Management department assumed responsibility for all construction coordination and sourcing including new lighting, mechanical and plumbing upgrades and chair rails. W&M Dining, in conjunction with Greenberry’s, assumed a large role by procuring equipment, selecting and ordering furniture, paint, carpet, product and artwork as well as sourcing the custom millwork for the bakery cases and cabinetry. “We all leveraged our expertise and relationships to maintain our deadline,” Byxbe said.
W&M Dining and Greenberry’s was able to further segment the work by hiring commercial design firm Pye Interiors to blend the Greenberry’s style with the existing layout. “We looked to Pye Interiors to capture the historical yet dynamic aesthetic we were hoping to achieve,” Moss said.
Pye was given approximately one week to choose fabric, paint, carpet and furniture as well as develop a layout for both the café and lounge space. All decisions were made during just two team meetings – an initial consultation and a final design presentation.
“Luckily the group was consistent on what they were looking for, we just helped tie their ideas together,” said Susan Cash, Senior Designer for Pye Interiors.
Communication is Key
The main ingredient in making this project a success was the communication. The team, which included Facilities Management, Greenberry’s, W&M Dining, Auxiliary Services, as well as representatives from Swem Library, met weekly for a status meeting. This allowed the entire team to remain abreast of potential issues and address anything they could derail the timeline. The meetings also reaffirmed the project expectations and continued to emphasize the extreme level of teamwork that was required to complete the project. “It’s amazing how many issues can be prevented by meeting for one hour once a week,” Byxbe said.
The Triple Constraint
The team worked tirelessly to maintain their triple constraint of scope, schedule and budget, as they were all too aware that even a slight change could have major affects on the entire project. With the scope defined as opening “a completely renovated, 2742 sq. ft. café in Swem Library,” the budget was set at $150,000 with a schedule of 60 days to grand opening.
In order to maintain the tight schedule, projects were scheduled simultaneously. While the electrician installed new lighting and addressed all mechanical and electrical requirements, carpenters installed new chair rails. Once the painting began, the service area was prepped and painted first so equipment could be moved and training commenced. While the dining area was being painted, carpet squares were placed in the lounge.
Initially, the sourcing of furniture was anticipated as a high level risk but to prevent significant delays, the team called the supplier ahead of time to confirm exactly which styles could be delivered within the designated time frame. “Our selection was drastically reduced because of the timeline we created for ourselves. The positive aspect of this limitation was that it helped keep our budget in line since we were not able to consider any type of custom furniture or fixtures,” said Byxbe.
Other decisions also helped maintain the budget and schedule such as sourcing the equipment from an existing store and using carpet squares instead of rolled carpet in the lounge.
Greenberry’s had surplus equipment from another location that they were able to install, which allowed for a significant cost savings as well as maintaining the 60-day timeline.
The decision to use carpet squares also affected the bottom line because the delivered product could be much more exact to the necessary measurements, thus eliminating significant excess. They also allowed for easy replacement should a stain appear or a section be damaged.
Leveraging existing partnerships allowed the team to remain within their triple constraint, but also expanded the offerings traditionally found in Greenberry’s.
While all beverages, including ingredients, were supplied through Greenberry’s, baked goods such as scones, muffins and sandwich breads were made fresh daily by the W&M Bakery. W&M Dining also leveraged their existing relationship with Boar’s Head to provide gourmet deli meats, cheeses and sauces, which allowed for a made-to-order meal option.
Artwork displayed in the space was selected by the Swem Library Special Projects Librarian, Kay Domine, and frosted black and white photo decals were installed by Wayne Davis, a long-term partner of W&M Dining. The artwork added a unique personalized element to the space but still helped create the cozy, coffeehouse atmosphere the campus craved.
Hard Work Pays Off
With the tables dusted, the paint dried and fresh beans in the grinder, Greenberry’s Coffee Co. opened for its first customers on Monday, October 8, 2012, exactly eight weeks to the day since the project began. With the first customer promised free coffee for the year, the winner staked his spot at midnight, spending his Sunday evening camped out in front of the door.
But the enthusiasm did not end there. Opening day saw over 1,200 customers served and many more who stopped by to see what the fuss was all about. On day two, Greenberry’s served 1,500 customers. If the café is able to maintain this rate of business, the operation will reach a break-even point within 1.5 years or 3.5 years ahead of schedule.
For a project that was barely an idea just eight weeks prior, John J. Byxbe, Sean Simmons, and Matt Moss are already exploring opportunities about how to increase the presence of Greenberry’s Coffee Co. on campus to further enhance William & Mary’s sustainability efforts. “Based on our initial response from the campus community, both in their purchase patterns and their feedback, Greenberry’s has been an extremely popular addition to campus so it makes sense to ensure that it is available beyond just the one location,” said Moss.
“This partnership has evolved to more than just a Greenberry’s Coffee Co. in the library. Currently, we are looking at opportunities to expand to other locations in an effort to support local businesses and the sustainability efforts of William & Mary,” said Byxbe.
“Challenge accepted,” responded Simmons.