Campus Planning and Retail Services plan to expand food options to TPS building

Campus Planning and Retail Services has plans underway to incorporate a portion of the Tacoma Paper and Stationary building as another food service option on campus. While there has been no official decision yet as to what kind of food service will be added, CPRS has Anthem Coffee and Tea as the front runner. CPRS and Anthem will hold popup events out of the space to gather student feedback.

The planned space, currently called the TPS Cafe area, is located on the ground floor of the TPS building next to the Prairie Line Trail. The space itself has an area of about 400 square feet, with the additional capability of opening the garage doors and expanding onto the patio space.

During the month of May, CPRS and Anthem plan to host events featuring food and coffee. They will collect student feedback which will go into helping develop and shape the focus of the cafe space. Ben Mauk, senior real estate manager for CPRS, talked about how their current goal is to focus on food rather than just drinks.

“What we want to get to is something that leads more with food,” Mauk said. “Having coffee in a space is a proven means of activation, [but] we are trying to lead with food.”

The current space is already equipped with some of the tools necessary to facilitate food services, which includes plumbing and a grease trap. Additional electrical work will need to be done if plans move forward, but the cost of getting the space into a condition suitable for serving food is expected to be low.

There have been multiple projects in the works to expand on the amount of food options built on-campus. Since spring of 2018, Charles & Terry Gourmet Chinese has had a space in the Mattress Factory over by the Dawg House. Court 17 has also had two food spaces: the Market Street Cafe — which closed down after failing to be profitable — and a grab-and-go store called Avenue C, which CPRS reports is very successful.

One thought being taken into account with this project is trying to incorporate affordability for students while also ensuring a long and profitable partnership with the food provider. Mauk explained the difficulty in trying to strike a balance between the two interests.

“This is the thing: how do you define what [affordability] is?” Mauk said. “That’s the tough piece. It could be something as simple as ‘somebody who shows their ID gets an x percent discount.’ Most people offer a 10 percent discount, so maybe we ask for 20. In doing that, though, you have to make sure you’re not overburdening the business owner because you want them to be successful too … If we do this right, this is a 10 or 20-year relationship.”

If all goes well, a more permanent establishment is expected to be ready by the start of fall 2019. Mauk hopes that by developing the and activating the space, it will increase the sense of community on the UW Tacoma campus.

“[This project] is not just about providing food and beverages,” Mauk stated. “It is about becoming a part of the UWT community and strengthening that community, and being a place where a student or faculty or staff says ‘meet me at the TPS Anthem,” [and] it means something special.”