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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Bob’s begins the year optimistically after financial trouble

By Mariam Asaad

Bob’s Underground, Grinnell’s student-run café, ran a deficit for several consecutive years. Last year it was presented with an ultimatum by the College’s administration—it had to either show a marked improvement in its finances or it would risk closure.

In the face of this, Bob’s management staff made several structural changes. These changes included hosting special events, additions to the menu, increased advertising and the development of a marketing campaign.

“At the end of the year we had made a significant amount of progress and though financially it did not end up manifesting itself as much as we would have liked it to,” said Bob’s Manager Margaret Allen ’12, “we did make a lot of structural changes and changes in the ethos of Bob’s.”

Seeing that the Bob’s management instituted promising changes and recorded its first month of profit last semester, the administration agreed to cut Bob’s deficit in half, allowing it to remain open but requiring it to pay back the remaining $6500 at the end of the year. If the café fails to do so, it is unlikely that the administration will bail them out again. Though this is a daunting task, the Bob’s management feels strongly about its ability to bounce back.

“We had an actual month of profit for the first time in a long time,” Allen said. “Towards the end of the year, the momentum died down but we did have a peak which showed us that Bob’s could do well, which was, I think, more imperative to our long term success than anything financial.”

This year, Bob’s staff is attempting to increase Bob’s campus presence and to make it handicap accessible.

“We’ve been trying to do a lot more advertising to make sure that people know it exists and that it’s a place for everyone on campus, first years through seniors,” said Anna Halpin-Healy ’13, who has worked for Bob’s for the past two years.

Last year the Bob’s management worked with SGA in order to address some of its financial issues. Though SGA technically has no involvement with Bob’s, it continuously offered its support in terms of planning events there and directing other groups towards Bob’s.

“We’ve been involved in some of the conversations in the past to see what they’re doing and what we can do,” SGA President Gabe Schecter ’12 said. “We encourage people to have study breaks there, we’ll be having lots of events that are planned there this semester.”

Allen and Halpin-Healy acknowledge the support of the SGA and stress the fact that the constant and continued support from groups and the student body is instrumental to Bob’s success.

“Last year, we were really active in our Save Bob’s campaign but what we really need is for students to think about what on campus is important to you: would you be upset if Bob’s closed?” Halpin-Healy said. “Because then, the most important way that you could really make a difference is coming out every week and ordering something. We want it to be a successful business and that means not having a Save Bob’s campaign every year.”

Bob’s accepts campus cash and first-years can now redeem their coffee coupons there.

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