Hospitality experiments with new pop-up cafes

For Trojans on campus who aren’t in range of Starbucks or Coffee Bean between classes, the new Illy “Pop-Up Cafes,” which will be around campus during the month of October, provide the opportunity to stay caffeinated.

These “Pop-Up Cafes,” named for their perpetually moving location, are a new project for Illy, a coffee company that prides itself on its espresso. As of now, USC is the first and only college campus to have incorporated pop-up cafes into its dining options.

The idea for these cafes at USC arose in response to various deans and vice deans requesting that coffee be made more readily available to the students at their respective schools. Because there are many areas on campus where USC Hospitality is not allowed to build, pop-up cafes are a solution to the unequal distribution of cafes on campus.

“When [Hospitality] met with the folks at Illy a while ago, they mentioned they had a pop-up solution that might work for us,” said Kris Klinger, director of hospitality. “This gives us the opportunity to provide services in areas where we normally would not be able to provide services.”

Though the pop-up cafes have only just begun to appear on campus, Klinger said that the student reaction to them has been positive so far. Currently, Illy Pop-Up Cafes are located every week in the Lyon Center and in the courtyard of the School of Social Work.

“When we were testing and doing some of the training, people that walked by were blown away,” Klinger said. “It’s unique and the [Illy] product is great.”

Jonathan Hernandez, a Hospitality employee who worked at the Illy Pop-Up Cafe when it was at the Lyon Center, said he has received a warm welcome so far from the Trojan community, especially international students.

“A lot of people know Illy … The international students will recognize it quickly and say, ‘Oh my god, Illy,” Hernandez said.

Some students, however, were not impressed with the quality of the product served or the prices being charged. Jon Kaye, an sophomore majoring in music industry, came across one of the cafes on the north part of campus and bought a cappuccino, but said he wasn’t pleased by the flavor or the size of the serving.

“It was convenient and it was worth a shot,” Kaye said. “I had never [before] tried their brand of coffee, but I don’t plan on trying it again.”

Other students, such as Michael Vayntrub, said that the current locations of the pop-up cafes are not convenient or even noticeable to the average student.

“I walk past the School of Social Work every day, and I only just noticed [the cafe],” said Vayntrub, a senior majoring in psychology. “I don’t think these will be successful because of where they’re placed on campus [and] there’s only one person manning it, which is a real inconvenience to students.”

Vayntrub also pointed out that the School of Social Work is not far from the Starbucks located in Birnkrant Residential Hall.

Other students, however, were pleasantly surprised when they saw one of the cafes.

“[The cafe] was tucked away and there was only one person in line, which I liked in comparison to the out-of-the-door lines of TroGro and Coffee Bean,” said Kaitlin McGillivray, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences.

Hospitality said it would like to maintain the pop-up cafes as long as possible if students and faculty respond well to them during the next few months.

The locations of the cafes are advertised on Hospitality’s Twitter and Facebook pages. In the near future, Hospitality also plans to release a list of upcoming locations on its website.


Follow Morgan on Twitter @megreenwald