Cage renovation aims to meet student needs

Of the many changes to the St. Olaf campus over the summer, arguably the most noticeable is the expansion and renovation of the Cage, a popular on-campus cafe. In recent years, the Cage has had trouble keeping up with the needs of the growing student body, and administration chose to address this issue with a new design for the venue and construction over the summer.

One of the old design’s main problems was limited seating, especially at certain times of the day when it seemed the whole campus needed a caffeine jolt and a place to study. For students who were able to find a seat and wanted to use their laptops, the small number of outlets posed a challenge.

Cage renovation plans aimed to tackle these issues by expanding the physical space. The first order of business was to relocate the offices that previously lined the hallway from the Cage to Rolvaag Memorial Library and turn these spaces into a single space with additional seating. Construction throughout the summer also included the removal of booths that lined both walls of the original Cage.

The new addition features longer tables, intended to accomodate larger groups, and various tables that are attached to the walls.

“Creating the space was the bulk of the renovation,” said Bon Appetit General Manager Peter Abrahamson. “We added about 100 chairs. We needed to add more seating because it was so hard to find a chair. We frequently had complaints about the lack of data jacks and plug-ins, and this new space makes up for that.”

As students return to campus, Bon Appetit is waiting to see how the renovation affects student traffic in the Cage.

“It will be challenging in the beginning to see how traffic and flow changes,” Abrahamson said. “We will need to see what is the best way for students in the new space to hear their number called for their food orders and how the addition affects the use of the Cage’s third register. We ask everybody to be patient.”

Students who moved in early for athletics and campus jobs have already tested out the new area.

“I think it’s a great use of the space,” Katherine Fitzgerald ’15 said. “It will be great for group projects and meetings. It will be interesting to see how it separates between studying and eating, but [the new area] seems more study-friendly because it’s brighter and has all the new outlets.”

Abrahamson added that, at some point in the future, equipment from the recently closed Norway Valley Cafe, formerly located in Regents Hall, will be brought to the Cage. Despite speculation that Norway Valley was closed because of the Cage expansion, Abrahamson could not confirm any connection between the two projects.