Dental Hygiene students, from left, Emma Golding, Wala Musleh, Dani Dale, Uzma Arif, Shannon Houser and Jessica Goodbred have lunch at the new café.
Ann Arbor, Mich., Feb. 8, 2017 -– Even before an official announcement of its opening, Café32 is already a hit this week at the School of Dentistry.
It didn’t take long on Monday for students, faculty, staff and patients to discover that their new option for food and drink is open. For the first time ever, the dentistry community doesn’t have to leave the building to track down coffee, lunch or snacks throughout the day.
The school is collaborating with the university’s M Dining department, which is operating Café32 as part of its network of dining facilities across campus. The cafe opened without fanfare Monday to ease into operation before an announcement to the school community was made Tuesday afternoon.
The café and its customers have already created a new hub of activity in the school. The area adjacent to, and inside, the atrium of the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry is a destination buzzing with people having lunch or taking a break with their coffee, smoothie, sandwich or salad. It previously had a few tables and chairs, but more were added and now extend into the atrium, including new upholstered chairs for relaxing in the naturally-lighted room with its high glass ceiling.
On Tuesday, at a table of fourth-year DDS students, the lunch orders of the day were chili, broccoli cheese soup, a red apple and coffee. Between studying and seeing patients, students don’t have much time left to chase down food, said Paymon Mousavi. “So anything that can get us quality food … wins,” he said. Lance Swapp said patients also will benefit from the new service, particularly those who have special needs, such as diabetes, where they may need to quickly find something to eat or drink. Looking around at the steady stream of customers Tuesday, Mousavi made a prediction: “They’re going to sell out every day,” he said.
At a table nearby, six dental hygiene seniors were eating a mix of Café32 food and lunch they brought from home. They complimented the café’s food and said its convenience is a big improvement on having to leave the building every noon to find food. The consensus was that the group will probably eat there nearly every day. “I wish it had been here a lot sooner,” said Dani Dale, who noted the group will have only three months as café customers before they graduate in May.
The need for a food service for patients and the rest of the School of Dentistry community has long been on the school’s wish list. In an email sent to members of the school community, Dean Laurie McCauley recounted that a café was the most common suggestion when she asked the dental community for improvement ideas when she was named dean three years ago. “Café32 is your vision,” McCauley said. “When we asked you about the school’s climate and culture, time and time again the response was ‘We need a café’ or ‘We need somewhere to meet with our colleagues’ or ‘Our patients need somewhere to get coffee and lunch.’ Now we have it!”
McCauley thanked the team of people who worked on the project, led by Chief of Staff Erica Hanss, “who worked diligently from the concept, inception, approvals, design, and final touches to make this a reality for our school.”
The café’s food options include freshly packaged sandwiches, wraps, croissants and salads, along with two rotating Soup of the Day selections. Fresh fruit, yogurt, chips, bagels, pastries and doughnuts are among other offerings. The lineup of drinks goes well beyond the basic cup of java or cappuccino to include frothy concoctions like the Michigan Mocha, Crammin’ Caramel Latte and Red Eye, a mix of coffee and espresso that seems appropriately named for the dental student short on sleep after studying all night for mid-terms. If coffee isn’t your cup of tea – and, yes, they have several variations of tea – there’s a variety of fruit smoothies from banana-strawberry to four-berry to mango.
Susan Cramer, associate director for retail at M Dining, said the food and drink offerings will change as café managers determine what’s popular and what’s not, as customers make suggestions and as the seasons change. Every café or dining facility on campus has a unique customer base that dictates menu variations in what's preferred and offered. The first couple of days at Café32 have been busier than M Dining expected, even factoring in that a new operation draws an influx of curious customers for the first time, Cramer said.
The café, managed by Brian Kearfott, is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, go to the Café32 page on the M Dining website.
The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of the nation’s leading dental schools engaged in oral health care education, research, patient care and community service. General dental care clinics and specialty clinics providing advanced treatment enable the school to offer dental services and programs to patients throughout Michigan. Classroom and clinic instruction prepare future dentists, dental specialists, and dental hygienists for practice in private offices, hospitals, academia and public agencies. Research seeks to discover and apply new knowledge that can help patients worldwide. For more information about the School of Dentistry, visit us on the Web at: www.dent.umich.edu.
School of Dentistry writer Lynn Monson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (734) 615-1971.