On a sunny fall afternoon, when August's heat has receded and it's finally comfortable to step outside again, the Sarah P. Duke Gardens can be the perfect place to relax, play Frisbee, read a book or just enjoy the scenery. But despite its 55 acres and hundreds of species of flora, the Gardens have always lacked one thing--a place to get a sandwich.
With the opening of the Terrace Cafe by Intimate Affairs, however, visitors will now be able to partake of light fare while they enjoy the Gardens. Located next to the historic terraced gardens, the cafe's location gives it a unique atmosphere compared to other campus dining options.
"We have the most beautiful, most picturesque dining room on Duke's campus," manager Shawn Holland said. "You can sit under a magnolia tree, or some exotic plant from Asia or Africa, and enjoy a cappuccino."
The cafe is the first retail establishment for Intimate Affairs, a catering company that has provided food for the Provost's Office, University Development and other campus groups.
Since the cafe opened two weeks ago, business has been slow, Holland said, but plans for extensive advertising and marketing are in the works. He said he hopes to attract customers from the high volume of traffic that comes through the Gardens every day.
"There are a lot of people that walk through the Gardens on their way to class that live on Central Campus, as well as visitors," he said. "They say that annually, over 300,000 people visit the Gardens. We want to be able to offer them something nice to eat and drink and a relaxing atmosphere."
Director of Dining Services Jim Wulforst said the cafe has considerable promise, calling it "a sweet little oasis right in the middle of the Terrace Gardens area."
He added that wireless Internet access would make the cafe an ideal place for students to study, and Holland said such plans are in the works.
And when winter approaches, patrons need not worry--the cafe will be outfitted so students, employees and visitors can still enjoy its ambience.
"During the colder months, it's going to have shelter and a space heater," Holland explained. "It'll have all the comforts of home." Like other campus dining establishments, the Terrace Cafe accepts food points. It operates Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and serves sandwiches and salads, desserts, coffees, teas and snacks, Holland said.
Although the cafe is still not seeing the volume of customers Holland said he has been hoping for, so far patrons have had positive comments about both the food and the location.
"I think it's real nice," said Dale Hollar, Trinity '76 and Law '79. "I remember when [the Terrace Cafe] was the bathroom. I hope it's successful, I love the Duke Gardens."
Dmitry Burmistrov, an exchange student from Russia who was visiting Duke with Hollar, said the cafe was an attractive addition to the Gardens.
"I think it's really good [and] nicely decorated," he said. "You can take a little break over here."
Cindy Yee contributed to this story.
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