Paces broke even this past semester, amassing a gross revenue of $15,000 and a net revenue of $o in the fall. It was the first semester in its over 10-year history that the student-run cafe has not made less money than it has spent. Paces staff credits the café’s newfound success to their recent restructuring, which included menu adaptations and OneCard accessibility.
Last fall, Paces was closed due to an audit from the Business Office. Since reopening, Paces staff has taken steps to revamp its reputation and make changes to its structure on campus. Previously, administration expected Paces to earn at least enough to cover the cost of goods, while the school funded the $30,000 to cover student wages each year. The college backed the café to provide students with a late-night, on-campus food option and offer 40 some student-workers with experience in the food and management industry.
Since Paces’ reopening, Paces management added the café to the OneCard, allowing for more student accessibility. They began purchasing supplies from Dining Services, a more sustainable food supply source than regular runs to a supermarket, and they upped their advertising game through sending weekly meme-filled emails to the campus community. Paces Kitchen Director Henry Han ’20 said their efforts have paid off; in the past semester and a half, they’ve seen an uptick in customer and applicant turnout.
“More and more people want to hang out in Paces now,” he said. “We are seeing more freshman and sophomore applicants, which is a result of our new image.”
Paces received 80 applicants for the spring semester—around 50 of which were for the barback position—and accepted roughly half of them. Four had not worked at Paces in the past.
Even after such success, Paces plans to continue to push forward. Head Director Ahmad Shaban ’19 noted Paces’ ultimate goal is to repay its debt to the college.
“We are determined to be profitable,” he said. “The college has supported Paces for so many years, and I believe that it is time for Paces to be a financial investment.”
To reach such a target, this semester Paces has added new food items to their menu, such as fruit smoothies and turkey-apple-provolone sandwiches. Han, who oversees menu items, said he plans to continuously revamp food options to keep customers interested and excited about the café. Before the end of the semester, he said to look out for some sort of banana-peanut butter smoothie.
Shaban said Paces hopes to serve more Swatties on a more consistent basis. Some ideas for achieving this include the introduction of board games or live student performances to their entertainment menu and reducing cost of menu items and goods. Another: to open on the weekends.
“We want to create a social space for students who do not want to go to PubNite on Thursdays, are bored on Fridays, and do not want to go to the fraternities on Saturdays,” he said. “Since Paces is currently a wet party space during the nights that we want to be open, we are seriously considering moving locations and, perhaps, rebranding the business.”
In this way, increased revenue has allowed Paces more flexibility to work toward its future goals.