New food service coming to Conservatory in winter

In order to supply Conservatory students with a more efficient meal option, an addition is coming to the Lawrence University Conservatory. This addition will be called “Avenue C at the Con” and will be independent from any food services under Bon Appétit.

The new addition will be a set of coolers in the downstairs lobby area of the Conservatory that will include a variety of sandwiches, salads, drinks, candy and snacks. A kiosk will be set up for payment using cash, credit card and Viking Gold. Potentially, payment with thumb print will also be enabled. Because Avenue C at the Con will not be under Bon Appétit, culinary cash will not be accepted.

The current vending machines in the Conservatory, which are run by Be’s Vending under contract with Bon Appétit, will be removed. All Be’s Vending contracts are planned to be moved to be university endeavors next year, which is why this addition will be separate from Bon Appétit.

In previous years, a food truck run by Bon Appétit had been parked near the Conservatory in order to provide students with food in between classes. This truck was nicknamed the “Dub Box” because it looked similar to a Volkswagen van. According to the Director of Warch Campus Center, Greg Griffin, this was removed because it was hard to maintain in the harsh weather and it was difficult to keep restocked. The food truck was not financially or physically sustainable, though it was incredibly popular.

According to Dean of the Conservatory Brian Pertl, the Dub Box served on average 75 meals per day, showing “a real indication of a need.” The truck had originally been intended to rotate around four spots on campus but was most profitable when parked near the Conservatory. Despite its popularity, the Dub Box was unable to stand on its own and would have eventually been a financial drain on the meal plan for other students.

Even though previous attempts to provide food closer to the Conservatory have failed, Griffin recognized that students wanted some option across the street. Installation for Avenue C at the Con had originally been planned for this 15-foot-long addition for the end of October, but there were delays involved with drainage and internet connection.

According to Griffin, the Monday after Thanksgiving, infrastructure work starts, and December will commence physical installment. By the first day of Winter Term classes, Avenue C at the Con will be fully stocked and operational. There are plans underway to have students sample the selections prior to installation.

According to Griffin, Avenue C at the Con will be restocked daily but probably not on the weekends. He also explained the unique agreement made with the company that would allow the fresh food to only be stocked during classes — not during breaks. The nonperishable foods and drinks would remain, though, for students who stay on campus.

When asked why Conservatory students in particular are so busy, Kimberly-Clark Professor of Music and Director of Bands Andrew Mast, explained, “There’s so many little, little pieces. It’s like a mosaic. You have these big rocks of freshman studies and that sort of thing, but there’s a lot of little pebbles in the Conservatory, and those pebbles add up.”

These “pebbles” include ensembles, lessons, individual practicing and classes. Despite the consequences of such rigorous involvement in ensembles and other activities, Professor Mast explained, “It comes from an originally driven desire to do and be involved in really interesting and cool projects, but it’s still a lot.” Lawrence students are notorious for competitive busyness, and this is especially heightened on the Conservatory side of campus.

In previous years, many Conservatory students would take nearly thirty credits due to their courses and numerous ensembles. However, now that students are charged for overload, this number has dropped to be more reasonable. Professor Mast recognized this as “incremental progress in terms of recognition that it is an inherently stressful place.”

This charge for overloading is not the only progress in terms of recognizing students’ health in the Conservatory. Health is an ever-present concern at the Conservatory, shown through the bulletin board plastered with the saying, “Do Less, Be More” and more subtle examples like the sign on Instructor of Music Marty Erickson’s door, which advises students not to allow themselves to be two of the following at the same time: Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired.

Many professors purposefully start rehearsals with breathing exercises to calm and center students, and these techniques can also be utilized in the Mind Spa in the Conservatory. A physical therapist also comes to the Conservatory weekly to address the injuries caused by intense playing. Hearing loss prevention is also emphasized in the Conservatory. Dean Pertl discussed the plan to add yoga to the Conservatory, for the current yoga hours conflict with ensembles.

Students in the Conservatory and across campus are not the only ones who struggle to maintain balance, though, for Professor Mast stated, “I think it’s a matter of the entire Lawrence community from the President of The Board of Trustees down to an eighth-grader who’s thinking about coming to Lawrence in four years.” This is a community issue that involves students, staff and all Lawrence community members.

Dean Pertl hopes that the Avenue C at the Con will benefit the university in ways he is not even expecting, for it is planned to fulfill a need for students but could provide for staff as well. Griffin admitted that he would not be surprised to see these additions in more places around campus in the future, for he predicts quite a bit of success from this concept.

Although there are many hopes for the Avenue C at the Con, there are still issues that may arise. Providing food in the lobby area of the Conservatory could lead to messes or a further divide of campus. “We already have this dragon-filled moat of College Avenue that separates us,” as Mast pointed out.

Due to the lack of an increased separation from the Dub Box, though, further isolation is not anticipated. The broader selection of food provided at Warch Campus Center as well as the social atmosphere will still be desired, according to Dean Pertl. Regarding theft, a topic some have mentioned since no one will be manning the station, Griffin explained that Avenue C only experiences marginal theft in their other locations due to the cameras that monitor the coolers.

Conservatory students can expect to return from winter break to have the Avenue C at the Con ready for use. Although there have been delays and reexamining of potential spaces for the addition, Griffin is confident in Avenue C’s promise to be fully operational by Jan. 3.