The wrapping is off the cushy furniture, the baristas are pouring shots of espresso and the bacon-egg-cheese croissants are hot and ready. The new full-service Starbucks in the Kinne University Center, one of only two on small college campuses in Florida, is brewing at full-speed.
“I was so excited to hear we were having a full Starbucks right here on campus,” said Rosas, sipping on her “go-to” — a Strawberry Acai with Coconut Refresher that’s become an Instagram sensation. “I feel so lucky that Jacksonville University continues to build new stuff, listens to us and gives us new choices. Plus it’s a nice, relaxing place to sit and talk with your friends between classes. It has a comforting feeling. You feel at home.”
That’s the mark President Tim Cost, working with groups such as Student Life staff, Aramark managers and Starbucks developers, is hitting at full speed: more enhanced living learning spaces in response to student requests, and built at the highest levels of quality.
“When we talk about students at the center of everything we do, that’s not a catch phrase, that’s not a punchline,” said Cost, thanking Aramark and Starbucks management for their contributions to the project during a packed Ribbon Cutting Thursday. “I worked at Aramark for several years, so I know what it takes to put in what we call the A package, and the A package is what we’ve got here. … We are going to do things right, or we’re not going to do them.”
The new dining destination is part of an historic period of growth and development aimed at students, said Luke Morrill, Associate Dean of Students. The reimagined River House gathering spot, North Hall first-year student residence, substantial investments to the lobby and lounges of Oak Hall, a completely renovated fitness center and new active learning lounge in the Davis Student Commons, a Chick fil-A location and extensive renovations to the Riverview Café are all examples of the University’s continued investment in enhancing the student experience.
“Every decision made is for the students. There’s a commitment to excellence here, and there is a value placed on student input,” said McKenzie Bolin, secretary for the Jacksonville University Student Alliance. “Starbucks gives us a community center environment where we can have conversations daily between students about what we like to see in the progression of our campus. Then our student government can be sure to bring those conversations back to the faculty and staff to make sure that our vision aligns.”
Anthony Viccari, business development manager for Starbucks, said the company has had its eye on JU for some time for a full-service location, and put its latest design, most forward layout and newest furniture styles into the shop.
“We work hand in hand with Aramark in finding good locations across the country, and we saw the excitement on this campus for the Starbucks brand.” he said. “Our goal is to make sure we have more of a Starbucks ‘third place’ experience here. It’s creating a place that’s not completely work, not where you play, and not where you live, but somewhere you can join friends to study, have conversations, meet and just hang out.”
That special atmosphere is something Andrea Vilarino Gonzalez, a musical theater sophomore from Puerto Rico and Rosas’ roommate, has picked up on. She was anxious to try the new Starbucks Sangria Berry Tea.
“We don’t have Starbucks where I live, and I like that I now have more options,” she said. “Sometimes I want to come here because I’m hungry, but often I just want to treat myself and be relaxed and happy at the same time. This place means I can have all that.”