Books & Bytes reopens with more space, splendor

Books & Bytes café in Milne Library reopened Monday after renovations were finally completed, leaving the eatery more spacious to accommodate its more than 900 daily customers.

Campus Auxiliary Services typically completes its major projects during summer sessions and the café's renovations were the focus of this past summer.

"We wanted to take a philosophically different approach to summer projects," said Mark Scott, executive director of CAS. "We wanted to concentrate resources to one building at a time in order to create highly visual and highly impactful projects."

According to Scott, Books & Bytes tended to become overcrowded with customers and employees during peak hours before the renovations.

"The goal was to improve functionality and the overall aesthetics as well as increase capacity for storage and service equipment," he said. "Books & Bytes outgrew its space."

To help increase the size, Director of Libraries Edwin Rivenburgh offered the use of some library offices, which have been demolished and converted into the back end of the current café. The eatery currently seats 60 occupants, and Scott said that CAS intends to add more seating soon.

The menu of Books & Bytes has undergone major changes as well.

"We wanted to create a coffee house, Panera [Bread]-style community," said Sarah Gittere, general manager of Campus Dining and Catering. In addition to soups, bagel sandwiches, coffee and "grab 'n go" items, the updated menu includes grilled panini sandwiches, IZZE sparkling juice and Naked juice.

"We wanted to have upscale, restaurant-style quality food," Gittere said. "The atmosphere should allow students to be able to decompress after hours of studying."

In accordance with the central idea behind the café, there are 12 laptop outlets currently available for student use, to which Scott and Gittere said they hope to add seven more.

The renovated café has received a positive response from both students and employees.

"There is more appeal for everybody now, as well as more space and variety," said employee Toni Gerace. "The paninis are a big success."

"I think it's great," said junior Mathé Kamsutchom. "It's more spacious, cleaner and there are more options. I especially like the gender icons on the bathrooms."

"I like the bright, vibrant colors," said junior Fiona Harvey. "There is a more college-y [sic] feel and the food selection is great!"

Monday's opening was considered a soft opening, which Scott said will "allow staff to work through the wrinkles." The official grand opening of the facility is scheduled for Sept. 28.