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The Exchange finds new, temporary home under Purnell Portico

The new outdoor space will run until renovations in Posner Hall are completed. (credit: Nora Mattson/Editor-in-Chief) The new outdoor space will run until renovations in Posner Hall are completed. (credit: Nora Mattson/Editor-in-Chief)

As students walk around campus this fall, they’ll see a new buildup of traffic outside the front entrance of the Purnell Center for the Arts. This is The Exchange Pop-Up Café, which has found a temporary home under the Purnell portico while The Exchange’s original location in Posner Hall undergoes renovations.

One of the most popular dining options on campus, The Exchange will reopen in the renovated space on Nov. 4 with a new design emphasizing speed of service and expanded seating. It will feature an open kitchen, coffee bar, and more grab-and-go menu options. At the start of the semester, the pop-up was operated in a tent at the front of Merson Courtyard outside the Cohon Center. The current location outside Purnell provides better cover, and will remain open until Oct., weather permitting.

Turnout has been good through the first three weeks of the semester. Dave Collins, who manned the register at The Exchange in Posner, also does so at the pop-up, making him a familiar face for regular customers over the years.

“Students from the School of Drama love that we’re so close now,” Collins said in an interview with The Tartan. “People come from all over campus because we have a good reputation. We’re popular with all the sports teams, soccer players. [It’s a] diverse group that comes here.”

While some returning students make their way across campus to grab their sandwich order at pop-up, first-years have no experience with the original café. First-year drama student Bahaar Esfahani appreciates its close proximity to her classes in Purnell, but does not think she will make the trek to Posner when the pop-up closes and the original location reopens.

“I literally have no idea where it used to be,” said Esfahani. “I walk out of Purnell, and [the pop-up is] right here. The location’s really convenient because I walk out of class, I’m hungry, and it’s right here.”

This is also the case for Wael Al Saeed, a masters student in computer science who spends most of his time on campus in the Gates Center. “I only discovered it this week,” he said.

While the new location has brought new customers, who wouldn’t otherwise get their lunches from The Exchange, the small nature of the pop-up means that there are some limitations to their menu. Despite this, they’re continuing to offer a wide variety of options, including breakfast, deli, and off-the-grill sandwiches, hot entrée and pasta specials, as well as hot coffee.

“There are [limitations] because we don’t have the storage,” said Collins. “We don’t have the refrigeration here to offer our full menu, but try to offer what we know is popular.”

The Exchange Pop-Up Café currently operates on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.