Maxwell Dworkin Says Goodbye to Café

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Mariam Melikadaze

Maxwell Dworkin’s Café, never the bustling refreshment center it was intended to be, will close this Friday, according to an email sent by Dean Fawwaz Habbal to the SEAS community yesterday.

Hungry students looking to grab a bite in Maxwell Dworkin will soon have to search elsewhere, as the building’s café will cease operations starting this Friday.

An e-mail sent yesterday to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences community by Executive Dean Fawwaz Habbal stated that “in light of the current financial environment and the increased number of new and nearby café/dining options, SEAS and Harvard University Dining Services have elected to discontinue service at the Maxwell Dworkin Café.”

Currently, the café, located on the building’s first floor, offers Starbucks coffee, Tazo teas, breakfast pastries, freshly made grab-n-go sandwiches and salads, soups, packaged snacks, and bottled beverages. In addition, there is a 24-hour Crimson Cash-operated self-serve espresso bar for cappuccinos and lattes.

According to the message, the operation was never profitable and has relied on a “significant subsidy from SEAS” ever since it opened in September 2005. Despite numerous efforts in the past to increase its viability—such as introducing new foods, expanding hours, and advertising—the final verdict was that the café was “not economically feasible.”

SEAS communications director Michael P. Rutter said that the decision came as a result of continuous assessments by SEAS regarding the café’s financial viability, as well as attempts to cut costs across the University.

“This is just one of a host of activities being done to balance the books in light of the financial situation,” Rutter said. The closing of the Maxwell Dworkin Café is not the first budgetary decision on campus to impact students’ stomachs. Earlier this year, financial concerns prompted the Barker Center Café to end its free coffee program, and the Freshman Dean’s Office is currently considering restricting proctors’ meal plans next year to reduce expenses.

Habbal’s e-mail reminded students of the numerous dining options nearby, including Greenhouse Café in the Science Center, Northwest Café, Buckminster’s at LISE, and Harkness Commons in the Law School.

Although there will no longer be an employee working at the café, self-service options will still be available. According to Rutter, SEAS plans to increase the number of vending machines and to maintain the espresso bar.

Though Maxwell Dworkin Café floor supervisor Donna R. Spears said she viewed the closing as “unexpected” and “disappointing,” she acknowledged that the café had many slow days, and that its limited hours—8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.—meant that many students turned to other options.

Rutter said that the Maxwell Dworkin Café—which features armchairs and a plasma television—“was always primarily a social space, and secondarily a café.” SEAS plans to maintain the social role of the space, and is looking to install more seating.

Molly M. Rooney ’11, who said she uses the space to do work after class, said that she was indifferent to the loss of the café.

“The café is very underutilized, but enhancing the social aspect would be great,” she said.

—Staff writer Liyun Jin can be reached at