Gateway Café to open Tomorrow

Self-serve micro-market will offer fresh fruit, soup, salad, sandwiches
September 26, 2016

Have a hankering for fresh fruit? A bowl of soup? Even just a hot cup of coffee?

Soon enough, students, faculty, and tenants of Gateway Park will no longer have to want for a snack or full meal (mid-day, late-night, or otherwise) or settle for high-salt, high-sugar vending machine fare.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 27), WPI will celebrate the grand opening of the new Gateway Café at 60 Prescott St., a self-serve “micro-market” offering grab-and-go options for those working, studying, and teaching at Gateway Park.

“We’ve tried a number of different dining options down in that space,” says assistant dean of students Emily Perlow. “This allows folks to come in and grab something at their convenience.”

Gateway Café will be open daily from 7:30 a.m. to midnight, accessible through swipe of a WPI I.D. The cafe will be operated by the Compass Group.

Offerings will include fresh fruit, soup, salad, sandwiches, “fresh ground coffee on demand” from a Rubi Machine, as well as other healthy choices that diners can then self-scan with a credit card or a café account.

The grand opening will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 27, and will include a ribbon cutting, samples of the food that will be available for purchase, raffles for WPI swag – and, of course, no celebration would be complete without cake. There will also be VIPs in attendance, according to Perlow, including vice provost for research Bogdan Vernescu and Philip Clay, vice president for student affairs.

As an added incentive to encourage people to take advantage of the new dining option, anyone who opens an account with the café by Oct. 2 will get a $2 credit, Perlow said. There will also be ongoing promotions throughout the year through the "WPI Eats" Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

Café offerings will be changed up regularly, and diners are encouraged to make suggestions about the menu.

According to Perlow, administrators had been looking for some time at the 750-square-foot space, which previously housed the bare-bones Pi Café, as a means to offer more robust dining for the building. Project organizers, led by Andy Butler, performed a survey of those who use the building, who overwhelmingly agreed that there are minimal food options in the area.

The micro-market option was particularly attractive because there are no labor costs involved, and it allows WPI to establish a baseline to help determine supply and demand if the university ever wanted to bring a vendor into the space, Perlow adds.

“People wanted access to fresh food, as opposed to vending machines with chips and candy bars,” she says. Meanwhile, the café’s “wide range of hours will meet the varied needs of students and faculty and staff.”

- By Taryn Plumb