Breaking ground on new cafe and bookstore

Annika Bjornson | Staff Writer

Major changes have happened to part of Whitworth’s campus on Hawthorne Road. Two theme houses west of Hawthorne Hall were demolished on September 30. Soon, the foundations for a new cafe and bookstore will be poured and the construction will be underway for the facility to be ready for use by the fall of 2020.

This facility, which has not yet been named, will include two main areas. The first of these will be a bookstore. The current bookstore will reportedly move out of the HUB, leaving a vacant space, the function of which is yet to be determined, but will be some sort of student-centered space. 

The bookstore will also include convenience items, such as aspirin and milk, that are typically in high demand but would otherwise require students to go off-campus to buy.

The other main area will be a sizeable cafe that will be paid for by Sodexo.

This opportunity came up when Whitworth renegotiated an extension of their contract with Sodexo. In exchange for extending the contract by 10 years, Sodexo committed to building and funding this portion of the new addition.

Head of Sodexo Megan Helm says that they will be testing menu items throughout the year.

“The brand/theme will be a celebration of Spokane and the PNW. The menu will feature fresh local ingredients,” Helm wrote in an email.

Starbucks convenient food items will be offered, along with marketplace-type items that provide healthy options such as salads, soups, and sandwiches. Pricing and specific menu items are currently being discussed, but one circulating idea is to have a special offer for a “pick three to go” option where students can pay a fixed price for three items.

Vice President of Finance and Administration Larry Probus hopes that the cafe, along with its Northwestern-themed outdoor area, will provide an inviting space. 

“It’s nice to have another location that is more on the other side of campus, closer to Hawthorne Hall,” Probus said. “Certainly for continuing studies students, who have their classes there, it is more convenient. We also hope it will be more inviting for the public to come and visit the campus. It’s in a key location, [what] President Taylor likes to call our ‘front door’ […] so it’s one of the first things you’ll see coming onto campus.”

Sophomore and coffee lover Jolee Bullshoe is excited to have more food options and a place to buy convenience items. 

“I think that would be beneficial to the students that don’t have vehicles or transportation,” Bullshoe said.

Another plan in the works is for Whitworth’s community partner, Rockwood at Whitworth, to have special privileges for their residents at the cafe and thereby encourage them to come onto campus and use the aquatic center or attend sporting or theater events.

 Assistant Vice President of Facilities Services Chris Eichorst is glad to see the construction underway.

“We are excited about this new café and bookstore [which is] in such a great location to serve our students, especially Hawthorne Hall programs and the public,” Eichorst said. “For the last year we have been partnering with Sodexo and the architect and engineers to develop the design and it’s great to see progress on construction.”

Whitworth has been receiving community input on how the facility can best serve its students, and it will continue to seek ways in which to improve the plans.

“For those who will be here next year, it’ll be really exciting to see how it develops,” Probus said. “We’re already getting input on what we think we’d like to offer, but as people initially start to use it next fall we’ll be looking for input to be sure that we’re really meeting the needs of students.”

The new facility will be available as a restaurant that is open to the public starting in fall of 2020. In the meantime, the construction by Hawthorne will be ongoing once permits are granted from Spokane County.