The Peconic Cafe: “The Plan is to Reopen”

  What’s going on with the Peconic Cafe? Will it reopen? These are questions that many students on campus may have asked themselves. 

     The short answer: Yes, it seems that the cafeteria will reopen.

     Denny Teason is the Director of Campus Activities on the Eastern campus. He notes that, earlier this year and during last year, the number of students on campus was noticeably lower than the current number. “We have more students on campus this semester than we did last year, for sure….” 

     Despite this, the cafeteria had been open, and it was not until recently – until around mid- to late-July of this year – that it closed. 

     Why the change?

     Perhaps the primary reason for this was that as of the end of July, the cafe no longer had a manager, or food service director, to run it. The cafeteria’s last manager, Angelo Kakaris, who had been in the position from October 2019 to around late July of this year, vacated the position to pursue a different career path. The cafeteria was and still is without a manager.

     However, the goal is to find a new manager. As of September, the college is in the process of reviewing candidates for the position. Denny explains that this can be, and often is, a lengthy process.

     “Searches at the college take some time; any search that’s done here doesn’t happen in two weeks.” Denny emphasizes the two-year long search for the current president of the college (Dr. Edward Bonahue) as an example. 

     According to Denny, “…the hiring process needs to play out, and there’s [sic] a number of steps along the hiring process that just can’t be skipped.” Included in the process are interviews, references, and background checks. Furthermore, once a potential candidate passes the preliminary checks, they must be approved by a board of directors. And after all, it is still up to the candidate to decide whether they want the job or not.

     Despite the less-than-speedy process, Denny hopes to reopen soon. Says Denny, “I’m very hopeful [the cafe will reopen] within the semester,” and perhaps more specifically in November. 

     When and if the cafe does reopen, the plan is to slowly return to normal operation, as a kind of “soft opening.” At least to begin with, there would be two staff members, a full-time manager and a part-time employee. Denny envisions beginning with easily prepared, “grab-and-go” food items, and then gradually opening on a larger scale with more food options.

     Despite the lack of a cafeteria on campus, the college community has responded positively to the challenge. During this semester, for example, Campus Activities and a number of other groups or individuals have catered for students on campus. This catering was not on a scheduled basis, but rather an effort to substitute for the cafeteria, at least until it is reopened.

     For instance, one day in October, the Faculty Association of the college funded “pizza day,” on which free pizza was provided to students on campus. In another instance, the Activist Coalition at Eastern (or ACE), led by club advisor Professor Cynthia Eaton of the English Department, catered Funcho’s Mexican food for students. The Suffolk County Community College Guild of Administrative Officers was another group that helped to support this effort. Such efforts may continue through the semester, or until the cafe is reopened.

     For more information on the cafe and recent developments on the topic, the author of this article can be e-mailed at [email protected]. Denny Teason can be contacted at [email protected].