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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Coffee Stays Cold at Wit’s End

The doors of The Wit’s End will stay closed this semester. The student-run café, once located on the third floor of the Wheatley building, closed last spring for monetary reasons, and, although options for the space are being considered, there are no immediate plans to reopen.

Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kelly Meehan explained that the café was not able to sustain itself financially once Student Activities and the cafeteria moved from Wheatley and the Campus Center became the center of student life. The Wit’s End tried to adapt by changing its menu and hours of operations and getting new furniture, but despite their best efforts, the café was just not able to recoup the business it once enjoyed.

“We just weren’t getting the cash flow needed to support it as an operation. I think the student managers that ran it did an exceptional job,” Meehan said. “They did everything from ordering the food to preparing the food to scheduling, making sure the bills got paid, balancing the cash drawers. They did everything, and they did a really good job.” But without the cafeteria and Student Activities to draw people towards the café, The Wit’s End was lost in the labyrinth halls of Wheatley. What is needed now, Meehan continued, is to find the service gap on campus. “We need a model that is different than what we have right now on campus. Maybe it’s a jazz cafe, maybe it’s an ice cream parlor. We need to find that unmet need.”

Whatever service eventually fills the space left by The Wit’s End, students and faculty alike miss the laid-back atmosphere of the former café. With live music, readings, a courtyard and fresh popcorn, one staff member described The Wit’s End as a coffeehouse from the ’60 s. That ambiance gave the café almost the highest customer satisfaction rating in a campus-wide dining services report.

Lorna Rivera, Associate Professor of Latino Studies, misses the natural light of the café, which was a pleasant change from her windowless office. She also misses being able to grab a quick cup of coffee before evening classes without leaving the Wheatley building. Another professor reminisced about the casual discussions she was able to have with students while waiting in line. Indeed, student Jason Campos described the atmosphere as “being conducive to relationship building between students, faculty and staff. All pretension dropped [at Wit’s End], it was a great place to decompress.”

Until a “revenue neutral” alternative is found, the former Wit’s End café space is being used for club events, and students and faculty have to find alternative areas to relax and unwind between classes. They will also have to be content with the Sodexho monopoly on food service at UMass Boston. While several students expressed the need of food options outside of Sodexho, Meehan explained that a new student-run operation must provide a different service than that of Sodexho.

“It’s a great space,” Meehan said. “It’s a pleasant place. With all the natural light, even though it doesn’t have much of a view, it always felt very comfortable. ”