Newell’s Deli, a quick stop for sandwiches, soup and hot entrees at Smith Hall, the University of Wisconsin-Madison residence hall at 35 N. Park St., has fewer than two years left on campus before being replaced by a full-service Starbucks.
The deli will close for renovations in summer 2020 and reopen as a Starbucks with full food and drink options in the fall, according to a Monday press release from UW-Madison Housing Dining and Culinary Services. Smith Hall is home to almost 600 students.
While residents will still have Gordon Dining and Events Center and Rheta’s Market in Barnard Hall as nearby dining options, freshman Erin Seifert, a Smith resident, said she likes the Newell’s location inside the hall and that it’s “another reason for students to want to live in dorms.”
“I definitely would not go to Starbucks as often as I go to Newell’s, because it’s really expensive,” Seifert also said. “For the freshmen, I think it will be a loss.”
According to the release, Resident Food Accounts will be valid at the Starbucks, qualifying residents for discounts on purchases similar to what they receive at other dining locations.
Housing Dining and Culinary Services director Peter Testory said in the release that “reinventing” Smith’s dining space was among students’ suggestions in an annual dining survey. When Newell’s first opened, it was meant only to be a deli with some convenience store options, Testory said in an email to The Capital Times. In attempts to attract more students, Newell’s began offering more variety, but the limited storage and cooking capacity made it “very difficult to offer a quality product with the current set up.”
Testory said Newell’s does not attract many students for meals and most customers purchase convenience store items. Considering the “overwhelming support” for a new service in Newell’s and students’ preference for Gordon, he said, the office decided a full-service coffee shop would offer a good combination of food and beverage options.
“We use the valuable feedback from the students to help guide our decisions, and we’re really excited to add this new type of service for our residents,” Testory said in the release.
When Albert Elston, a sophomore who lived in Smith last year, was surveyed about potential changes, he said he was hoping for something that would offer long hours. Newell’s is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays, and serves hot food during meal times. But the deli is closed on weekends.
Starbucks will be open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Elston said having late night hours was useful when he came home late after studying or during the winter, when snow made it difficult to walk to Gordon or Rheta’s. Gordon is located about a five-minute walk from Smith, but Elston said, “while this is close to Gordon, this is the furthest dorm from the rest of campus,” and that he would still prefer Newell’s.
The Starbucks will be staffed fully by University Housing employees but increase the number of both full-time and student employees needed at the location, Testory said.
Correction: The UW-Madison press release announcing this move provided an incorrect date for construction and opening.