Barnes & Noble College’s ebullient Director of Café & Convenience reveals what it takes to feed hungry college students, and dishes on cheese sticks, trends and driving the business.
What was your first job?
I was a cashier at A&P, so I shouldn’t be surprised I’ve built a career in retail!
What is your current role at Barnes & Noble College?
The easy answer is that I manage the company’s food and beverage business, but the one thing I always love to say is that this role is about driving loyalty and traffic on a daily basis.
How does the café and convenience operations fit into our idea of the store being a hub for the campus?
I always think of our cafés as great places to hang out; a second home, a place to meet friends, and hopefully a place that our students feel comfortable calling their own. We also want to be able to provide great tastes — experiences they can easily enjoy between classes or grab on the go.
I’d probably have to say a good glass of wine, but from what we stock in our stores? Polly-O Cheese Sticks, no question. By now, I think all of our store managers know they’re my weakness.
Who would you most like to meet for coffee at a Barnes & Noble College café?
My three favorite guys — and they know who they are.
Sweet or savory?
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
I’d be a personal trainer.
Biggest challenge in café and convenience?
I think competition. We’re all challenged every day in this industry by the bigger and the newer. We like to think we just concentrate on being better.
Currently I’m reading Jeremy Gutsche’s The Trend Hunter.
Common characteristic of people who work at Barnes & Noble College?
Best day at Barnes & Noble College?
In the first couple of years we developed a foundation, a structure for the business, with Betsy (Bohne) and Kate (Jandernal). We’d stay late, and maybe come in on Saturdays, but those are some of my favorite days and my favorite moments because we were creating something new for the company — and I’m really proud of that.