In a school where all students have to take 8:35 a.m. classes at one time or another, it’s no surprise that caffeine is the legal drug of choice for many students in the mornings. Since the brand new Backstage Caf opened Thursday, Nov. 29 in the basement of the Eastman school, students no longer have to make a special trip to Java’s or Spot Coffee before class to get their daily fix. They also don’t have to bother taking out their wallets to pay, as The Backstage Caf accepts both Flex and declining.

“It’s a good place to get hot cocoa in the mornings to wake up for class,” freshman Angela Lee said. “It’s also a great place to grab something if you don’t have time to sit down to eat.”

“It seems like an extension of the cafeteria,” said graduate student Will Dabback.

Previously, the Pit and the Dining Center were the only two locations on campus where Eastman students could sit down to eat and be able to use their meal plans. Both are located in the Student Living Center, which is down the street from the main building where students have classes that often keep them occupied for most of the day.

Students who want to grab a quick bite to eat or buy a cup of coffee either between classes or during a practice session often walk to Java’s, the coffeehouse next door on Gibbs Street.

The Backstage Caf looks like a cross between UR’s Corner Store and Java Hut at CLARC. The little nook where is sits also houses internet-capable computers, two vending machines, tables, chairs, a copier and the manila folders Eastman students and teachers use to share assignments, handwritten notes and other materials.

The Caf was installed in this room, where a store called “Hurricane Down Under” used to be ? a spin-off of the Hurricane Deli located on Gibbs Street. When the owner of the Hurricane Deli went under, the Hurricane Down Under closed.

Since the Hurricane Down Under didn’t accept declining or flex, it seems like opening an ARAMARK operation was the most beneficial option for students.

“Our main objective was to give students convenience and a greater variety,” said ARAMARK regional district manager Paul Palmer.

“We wanted to offer Eastman students an additional venue that would be similar to the Corner Store on River Campus but with more than just ‘Corner Store’ items,” Palmer said.

So far, the little store is receiving lots of applause. “It’s good that there’s something down there now, especially for people who have dining plans,” junior Beth Fox said.

Like UR’s Corner Store, the Backstage Caf does not accept the block plan. “That’s really the only drawback,” senior Emily Caltvedt said.

“It’s a big improvement [to the Hurricane Down Under]. The wraps are really good and the choices are a little healthier than what’s at the Pit,” she said.

“It seems like I have entire classrooms come in between classes,” said ARAMARK employee Cheryl Smith, the manager of the Caf. “It’s very much a daytime operation.”

The Caf is currently open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays.

Weiss can be reached at

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