To the Kenyon community,
On behalf of the entire staff of FLATS, the student-run bar coming to campus, we would like to apologize for the false starts, the empty promises and the lack of clarity regarding the circumstances of our operation. If it were within our power, we would open our doors to you tomorrow. However, in attempting to serve our first drink and open our first tab, we have met a wide array of confounding factors and compounding delays. After finishing our hiring process last semester, we held staff meetings and familiarized ourselves with the former Chilitos space. But, due to contracting issues, missing safety inspections and departmental miscommunication, our anticipated opening date was consistently pushed back.
Instead of using this space to lay blame, point fingers or assail various parties, we will try to offer advice. As we await the results of the final inspections of our space, our last obstacle before opening, we wish to offer the following tips to Kenyon students who might want to create projects like ours. These tips may very well help you if you run into the same issues in your future.
First, if you have an idea for an organization or an operation that requires more than funding — space, infrastructure, input and aid from administrators, faculty and staff members — make certain that you start your planning and outreach now. Even at an institution as small as Kenyon, the inherent bureaucratic slog and departmental disjunction still grinds every decision, every action, every result to a crawl. Giving yourself and your organization enough time to handle the inevitable delays and setbacks puts you in a more favorable position for realizing your original vision, and it allows you more room for pragmatism and readjustment.
Second, make no promises, not to anyone. We, as a managing staff, made this reasonable misstep. Because the road is certainly lined with obstacles and mistaken assurances, over-excited early advertisement does your peers, your community and your spirit no favors. Take everything with a grain of salt until the opening date is stamped in ink on the calendar; we do not even have ours right now. This is not to say that optimism and persistence should be tossed out the window. Assurance in an effort, not a date, will keep you in the ring for the distance. Keep up your jabs and crosses, parry any incoming punches, because the other fighter — the composite of all the confounding factors and compounding delays — is totally out of your control.
Third, find yourself a coach as soon as you can. For us, that was Larry. Larry Blake has been a supporter and an advocate of the project since he took on his new role at the College as interim director of facility operations. He has been diligent in following necessary and hidden logistical steps, like permit approvals and contract concerns. Despite two years of constant effort and learning, we could not teach ourselves everything. You can spend hours and hours researching even the smallest and most necessary of details, but an expert is required in the areas that tend to cause the most painful headaches down the line. That is why we are indebted to Larry and the numerous others who have provided their expertise in many areas concerning the operation. We just wish we had met them sooner.
This brings us to our last tip: Be patient, and arm yourself with kindness. Frustration, disappointment and the slog will wear you to the bone. The only way to succeed in this endeavor and realize your vision is to show up on your end. The only way to succeed is to manage your grievances and keep it pushing with a smile. The only way to succeed is to believe in the end goal, through and through, with the help of others who share your vision. Make sure you are still awake at the end of the final round.
Spencer Hirsch ’23
Delaney Gallagher ’23
Rocco Danese ’23
Charlotte Schultz ’23