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Coffeehouse, Networks To Reopen after Renovations

By Naveen Sunkavally


After extensive renovations this summer, two popular student hangouts and dining options will once again open their doors in the next few weeks.

The Student Center Coffeehouse is expected to open this coming Monday, and the soon-to-be-renamed Networks CafÉ will open on Sept. 8. In both cases, delays in receiving equipment and furniture are the biggest constraints holding up their openings.

Coffeehouse expands

Returning students will notice that the Coffeehouse has received a substantial facelift this summer. “We’ve tried to make the Coffeehouse a place students can use for studying, lounging, and programming,” said Campus Activities Complex Associate Director Ted E. Johnson.

To further this end, the new Coffeehouse has been made more upscale and contemporary than its predecessor. The back room used for small meetings and quiet study will make way for extra seating, and a new section in the back that was formerly the office of former Associate Dean Andrew M. Eisenmann ’70 will house a pool table.

New renovations also allow for the presence of a portable stage in the center of the room. The stage will be used for activities programming, Johnson said. He said that students can expect to see live performances by local acts every Thursday night from 8-10 p.m., and that other evenings might be reserved for open-mike nights.

CAC Director Phillip J. Walsh said that the programming will be “low-impact” and “directed at the MIT community.” It will not be meant to attract outsiders.

The new renovations will not sacrifice the intimacy present in the old Coffeehouse, Johnson said.

Another change to the Coffeehouse is a partition between the communal area and the food counter. Walsh said that this addition will allow the Coffeehouse to remain open even when no one is present to staff the counter. Also, the Coffeehouse will house vending machines in the communal area so that students can still purchase drinks or snacks when the counter is closed.

Networks changes to marketplace

The restaurant formerly known as Networks has also received significant renovations this summer.

The alterations are the first such change in campus dining since the renovation of Baker House’s dining hall in 1995, said Richard D. Berlin, director of campus dining.

Berlin said that the new Networks will strive to be more of a marketplace and interactive restaurant. Rather than coming in, looking at a menu, getting their ticket, getting their food, and eating, students will have an opportunity to be more involved in the type of food they order and how it is prepared, Berlin said.

“This is the complete opposite [of the old Networks]. The food is selling itself,” Berlin said.

Except for a few popularly requested items, the menu will be changed regularly. Students will be able to talk to the cook directly to say, for example, “‘I’d like the chicken breast with these things on it and this is the way I wanted it cooked,’” Berlin said.

The new Networks will also replace Lobdell Food Court as the only restaurant open for breakfast in the Student Center, Berlin said.

The final name for the restaurant has yet to be determined, Berlin said.