Juice Bar Competition: What Do You Want?

The deadline for submitting proposals to establish a student-managed food/drink service in the Juice Bar area of the Grille has come and gone. The competition has yielded nine outstanding proposals demonstrating the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of our students. A committee of faculty, staff, and students will convene shortly to review each proposal and select a final candidate by Monday, December 13. Proposals will be judged on the basis of their feasibility, economic viability, vision, and simplicity.

Having read through all of the proposals, I have noticed that several common (and uncommon) themes have arisen. In the beverage arena, smoothies, hot drinks (espresso, brewed coffee, and tea), beer, and wine are clear favorites among the submissions. Several proposals include a desire to also serve niche drinks, such as kombucha, bubble tea, and butterbeer (a la that bespectacled boy-wizard). As for food, there seems to be a tension between healthy fare and comfort food. Submissions include everything from Asian-inspired light meals to afternoon snacks to just desserts.

In terms of the appearance and ambience of the restaurant, students widely acknowledged the need to counterbalance the “Work Hard, Play Hard” mentality of our campus. Whether advocating for the feel of mom’s kitchen counter or a 1930’s-style jazz café, students want to develop a venue where patrons can hang-out, relax, and unwind.

There was also no shortage of ideas for what sort of entertainment should be available. Poetry readings, improv shows, classic movie screenings, theme nights, coffee tastings, board games, and especially live music top the list.

Given the array of proposals before us, it would be helpful to have a sense of what the greater community would like to see in the former Juice Bar. Even if you did not craft a proposal, you likely have an opinion about the beverages, food, entertainment, and overall atmosphere that should be offered. If the new venue is to be successful, what should be included and what should be left out?

18 thoughts on “Juice Bar Competition: What Do You Want?

  1. Olivia

    I’m a big proponent of bringing less greasy, less salty food to mcCullough. Supporting local food and businesses would also be amazing, reinforcing Middlebury’s commitment to local farms.

  2. Cailey

    The “Juice Bar of the Future” could be a great venue for homemade, healthy, local food. The Grille fills the comfort food niche already, but students have no healthy on-campus options outside of dining hall hours. The Juice Bar could offer both a series of regular dishes, and different specials. Specials could showcase select ingredients from local farms and farmers, which would provide a great opportunity for the college to further partner with local farms and businesses. Ideally, the Juice Bar could be a place for foodies to taste new recipes, and for the average Midd student to grab a homemade treat. May the best proposal win!

  3. Cody

    I say let’s get some local food in the Juice Bar! I love greasy food as much as the next person, but I think it’s important to have an alternative option for students–maybe some local Vermont comfort foods like French Toast, mac and cheese, fresh bread, etc. If these things were in the juice bar, I know I’d be there all the time.

  4. ARW

    I would also love delicious food that I feel good about eating because I know I’m supporting local farmers. I think that it would be great for the juice bar to take part in strengthening the college-community relationship, and I think that buying from local farmers is a great way of doing that. I also think that the idea of healthy and homemade food will appeal to people outside of the college, so that the juice bar can again become a place where people from the community and students can interact.

  5. Emma

    I would like to see some local food from Vermont, but also some extremely local food–as in students cooking. A sort of a twist on a tea shop would be nice–tea, coffee, all manner of homemade breads, soups, etc. to have a nice warm environment that students don’t have to go off of campus to get.
    And above all, CHEESE!

  6. Janet

    I love the idea of being able to get good healthy food on campus after the dining halls close. Eating unhealthy snacks while working late at night just adds to the unhealthiness of late night cramming and its hard to find time to go grocery shopping to buy your own snacks. A healthy-crunchy-local Juice Bar would fill this void.
    Also, I would love to see more college support of local agriculture and businesses. After budget cuts have decreased the amount of local foods served in the dining hall, providing them in the Juice Bar would be a great way to supplement that loss.
    The College is lacking a spot on campus for all students to gather to unwind after studying on weeknights so I hope the revitalization of the Juice Bar leads to a place like that!

  7. elori

    The juice bar definitely has the potential to become something beyond a student hang out. by serving local vermont food and allowing students to make homemade foods, the juice bar would be embodying the values that the college tries to promote. Food brings people together. Why not extend the circle to include our farming neighbors?

    1. anna

      PRECISELY. As it is the Juice Bar is sadly underused, and though Proctor and Ross do a good job incorporating some local soymilk, maple syrup, etc., it’s much more plausible for a small organization to commit to primarily local ingredients than a dining hall. Middlebury should put its money (in the form of local food) where its mouth is.

      Also. Bread.

  8. Trina Thornburgh

    I would love some local food! especially home baked goods/some healthier/fresher stuff that would be available as an alternative to the grille food.

  9. Carey

    I agree with all this local food hubbub– YUMYUM! It would be great to have a place on campus to get healthy, local, student-prepared food. Make the juice bar that place!

  10. Samuel Koplinka-Loehr

    I’m thinking good local food sounds great, and i like the idea that JR said: comfort food! yes, baked goods are good, but maybe even some locally baked bread, or student baked bread? I know i’d love to bake/eat some good bread!

  11. Marty

    Wouldn’t it be fun if the Juice Bar were run by students for students? I think this is a great opportunity to provide more opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience. I think a combination of delicious local food and student workers/managers would make the Juice Bar an extremely popular, healthy social destination and learning experience for all.

  12. Sarah Franco Post author

    Thank you all for your comments. If anyone else has anything to add, please do.

    Marty: You’re in luck! The goal of the Juice Bar competition is to create a venue run by students. Stay tuned for the winner.

  13. BMK

    Aren’t there already tons of local food options in town? What benefit is there to further withdrawing the student body from interaction in with the town? Go out and explore people! Let’s not take something that cultivates student-town interaction and instead serve it on a silver platter to our campus.

  14. KAD

    Please! Healthier food options! This late-night grille studier needs something else besides Love Me Tenders and nachos. Also, *real* comfort food would be a welcome addition (freshly-baked bread is a great idea!). I know at least a few friends who would love to make some items for a student-run juice bar, so let’s make this happen!

  15. Audrey

    I would love some great comfort food! Fresh-baked bread, mac and cheese, etc. is exactly the kind of food I want late at night for a snack break. And I really like the idea of having local food options. Sure there are a lot of places in town that offer local food, and even here in the dining halls, but I don’t think that local food should ever be shot down because it is too common or too popular of an option. I love the idea of student-community relations.

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