Fans of Joe Van Gogh coffee will soon need to look elsewhere for their dose of caffeine.
The University notified the coffee shop chain last week that it will have to temporarily close starting March 1 due to ongoing renovations to the Bryan Center, said Dave Jernigan, Joe Van Gogh’s director of sales and marketing. The cafe plans to reopen in early June at its same location.
“Anytime you work as an outside vendor on campus, it’s part of the reality that sometimes construction will impact your business,” Jernigan said. “At some point, we imagined it would impact us.”
Realizing construction would likely affect the business, Jernigan called the notification “hasty,” as it will impact Joe Van Gogh’s employees in addition to the business itself. Before meeting with Director of Dining Robert Coffey last week, Jernigan said he was unsure that the business would be forced to close during Bryan Center construction.
Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said he has known for a few weeks that Joe Van Gogh will be forced to close, attributing the short time frame of notifying the coffee shop to the occassionally unpredictable schedule that results from construction projects.
“It was inevitable that [Joe Van Gogh] would be affected, but we did not know the scope or time,” he said. “[Timing] is related to a very complicated constructions project that has many moving parts.”
Coffey could not be reached for comment in time for publication.
Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs for housing, dining and residence life, wrote in an email Tuesday that he was meeting with individuals from Joe Van Gogh Tuesday afternoon but declined to comment further. He noted that there will be a follow-up meeting between University officials and Joe Van Gogh, and the two parties have yet to “come to a resolution.”
“We are doing our best to really mitigate the impact on our employees,” Jernigan said. “I think a lot of them are reflecting on what they want to do…. Some people may stay and others may move on.”
Employees working in the shop Tuesday deferred comment to Jernigan and Stephanie Kelley, the company’s marketing, communications and merchandising manager.
Some students said they were upset to hear that Joe Van Gogh will be absent from campus for the second half of the semester, citing the establishment’s high quality coffee and relaxed study environment as unique draws to the café.
“I come here probably like a couple times a week,” said junior Katie Clark. “Especially if I don’t have class until later, I come and study here.”
Although the cafe will be absent from the University for a few months, Kelley noted that its products will still be available on campus. Several on-campus coffeehouses, such as Bella Union, serve Joe Van Gogh’s coffee, she said. The company also has a location on Broad Street close to East Campus.
But freshman Laurie Hwang said Joe Van Gogh will be missed.
“Joe Van Gogh has the best coffee, at least on campus,” she said. “We have some alternative choices like The Perk or Twinnie’s, but they’re not my priority compared to Joe Van Gogh.”
Jernigan said that although closing will be problematic, the company is trying to look at the construction as a positive. Renovations to the Bryan Center will improve Joe Van Gogh’s customer experience and work environment in the long run, he said.
“It’s a very popular store and a huge part of the Duke community,” he added. “We’re all doing our best to get through it and looking forward to reopening in June. We’ll be back in time for summer school.”
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