As the days in Gambier turn dark and cold, students can escape Chalmers Library and return to a favorite study spot on campus — Wiggin Street Coffee, which has for months faced staffing shortages that have forced the business to close indoor dining and operate on irregular and reduced hours. Now that the business has resolved the problems posed by these challenges, Regional Operations Manager for River Road Coffee Jessica Chadwick is excited for Wiggins to begin operating at more normal conditions, not only with the reopening of indoor seating but also with the addition of more regular hours starting Monday, when the business will adopt a new closing time of 5 p.m.
According to Chadwick, Wiggins’ staffing problems were partly due to their general manager being out on maternity leave. The coffee shop also had a new assistant manager at this time, who was unable to receive full training due to the absence of the general manager. With the limited staff, Chadwick was not confident that the shop would be able to provide high-quality service both in terms of making and serving drinks in a timely manner as well as keeping the indoor space clean. “We care about the people that work for us, and then also the quality of our products,” she said. “So if we stretch our staff out too thin and we’re not able to keep up with cleaning things, then quality suffers as well.” Upon the return of the general manager, who was able to finally fully train the new assistant manager, the business was ready to fully reopen.
Beyond reopening indoor seating, Chadwick is also excited to continue extending the shop’s hours. She noted that the business recently promoted a server to manager on duty. She hopes that as this employee becomes more comfortable in the role, the business will be able to expand its hours to 7 or 8 p.m., hopefully by the time students return from winter break. According to Chadwick, the coffee shop used to remain open until 10 p.m. each night, and returning to these hours of operations remains a long-term goal for the business, as well as returning to operating on Sundays. “Even the staff have been waiting to open dine-in because it just makes it more of a coffee shop feel — it’s really weird not to have customers in your store, and I don’t think anybody likes that,” she said.
As the fall semester ends and the spring semester begins, Chadwick anticipates that students will be eager for a new place to study and socialize, and she is excited to be able to provide a space for those purposes. “Our goal is to have a place for [students] to come in, sit down, have a cup of coffee,” she said. “Especially when it’s cold outside, too, there’s not really a lot of different places that you can just kind of go and sit and chill.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Celestino Limas expressed excitement about the opportunities students will have to congregate with one another in a space characteristic to Kenyon. “There’s something about the space that the students and employees at the College find to be very unique, very peaceful and I think very important to the College,” he said. “The dining room being open is a big, big step forward.”