New manager means change at Four Winds Cafe

Photo Credit: Sydney Kruljac
Manager Olivia Levinson (’11) serves second-year Annie Rosenblum iced tea at the Four Winds Cafe.

Known as a landmark and popular hub for New College students since 1996, the Four Winds Café has recently witnessed a number of changes under the new management of recent alum, Olivia Levinson (‘11).

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, the Four Winds finally opened its doors to students for the 2015-2016 school year, permeating the air with the smell of coffee and baked goods. After the summer-long wait, the opening attracted a rush of students hungry for their favorite snacks such as Russian princesses and pizza bagels.

“It went well,” Levinson said. “We were making way more cash and credit sales than we were last year, and about a third of the Ham point sales, which is good because we’re trying to reserve Ham points. So we we’re doing exactly what I hoped would happen.”

One of the biggest changes to occur this year at the Four Winds is the Ham point system. Metz will provide the Four Winds with an allocated amount of 75,000 Ham points per year. In the past, students were able to use their Ham points on both food and drinks, causing the allocated Ham points to deplete by spring semester. This year, however, Levinson implemented a new system in order to conserve these Ham points for students.

“I was trying to brainstorm ways in mitigating this Ham point issue,” Levinson said. “My roommate said ‘Why don’t you just charge cash/credit for drinks?’ and I thought ‘Oh no, no one will be about that.’ But the more I thought about it, it seemed to be the only feasible option.”

With the approval of the NCSA co-presidents, last year’s Four Winds manager and the café’s accountant, Levinson decided to take action.

“With all those go-aheads, I decided that’s the way it’s going to be,” Levinson said. “Because of that, we’ve been saving Ham points, making more cash, and the tips are probably three and a half to four times higher than they were on a daily rate in any previous year because of more cash transactions.”

Levinson is also working hard with the NCSA co-presidents and disabilities representative to make the Four Winds as ADA compliant as possible. This summer, a new ramp was installed from the promenade to the café. Prior to the installment, the only accessible ramp to the Four Winds was along the sidewalk between the Archaeology Lab and the Anthropology Lab. Because of this, students with limited mobility would have to travel an inconvenient distance just to access the café. Levinson is also working on installing a button to open the café doors automatically.

Some of the smaller changes executed include a new service method for the lunchtime rush and an added grab-n-go refrigerator. During lunch rushes, employees will now yell out a person’s name and their order, and then proceed to place the item and ticket number on a table outside the kitchen.

“Sometimes last year people would just take what was handed to them and it was completely different from what they ordered,” Levinson said.

The Four Winds is also starting to experiment with boba tea. Customers can now add a scoop of boba to any hot or cold teas and smoothies.

“Something I like to do is take our regular iced tea, put boba in it, then add a fruit juice, like orange juice or apple juice, and that makes it a fruity boba,” she said.  “Another thing you can do is take a regular iced tea and put in a milk of any kind and a little bit of the boba syrup to sweeten it, and of course the boba. Then you have a milky boba tea. So there are ways to customize your boba.”

Levinson hopes to have more events this year at the cafe such as the Four Winds haunted house, open mic nights and concerts.

“I’m really excited about my new staff,” she said. “Everybody I hired I feel so confident in, they’re working their asses off and it’s not an easy job. [Customers] just need to be patient with us because it is a process.”


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