The fate of Four Winds Cafe has been a topic of discussion for years following its closure in 2019. Returning students will confront the feeling of déjà vu as Four Winds reopens for the second time since the pandemic, last Spring’s vendor being Sorrento Sweets. This semester, students can expect a new outside vendor in the traditionally student-run cafe. SaraFresh Kitchen, a local, women-owned business, is expected to open its doors to the New College community on Oct. 25.
“I started about 11 years ago, actually accidentally,” owner and founder Lynn Morris told the Catalyst. “I knew about nutrition. I grew up as a dancer, as an athlete, going to farmers markets. I was like, “I need to do a cleanse.” Nobody in this town was doing cold-pressed juice and was doing what I was looking for, so I made it for myself.
“Meanwhile, I’m telling my neighbor, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do for business,’ ” Morris continued. “She said, ‘You should do this, you light up when you talk about it, you’re good at it and people want it.’ So I started taking 10 people at a time through a juice cleanse, and I was doing it out of my house. That’s kind of how I started and here I am 11 years later. It was all an accident, it was not intentional. It’s the most unconventional business plan.”
The word unconventional resonates with New College, which prides itself on unconventional ways of teaching and learning, much like what Morris has planned for the space. During an in-person interview with Morris, a local kombucha vendor entered Four Winds, equipped with a large draft kombucha machine that Morris said students will be able to use to serve themselves.
Many big ideas are in the works. For example, there will be a self-serve juice fridge students can access after purchasing a bottle at the self-serve kiosk. But Morris knows that big ideas typically mean big money.
“In my mind I have two demographics,” Morris stated. “I have the faculty and the students. The faculty, in my mind, are going to eat one way and students may not have the same budget, so I’m thinking about all of these things. I want students to be able to eat and enjoy it. I’m open for feedback, and I am a for-profit business, so if you guys want peanut butter and jelly for three bucks, then let’s do that. We can make it work and it helps to have feedback.”
Morris walked a Catalyst reporter through how she was able to sign a one-year contract to vend on campus.
“I had a food truck for seven years and I sold juice at a farmers market,” Morris recounted. “When COVID hit, the farmers market was closed for six months so I lost my income. My friend owned this restaurant called The Overton, and he stayed open during the pandemic. I had my food truck and I had no idea what to do with myself.”
The Overton had a 300 square-foot corner where a coffee shop used to be. Morris took the opportunity to open her first brick-and-mortar location there with the approval of her friend and then-landlord, switching from SaraFresh Juice to SaraFresh Kitchen. When The Overton closed, Morris had to figure out the challenge of working the space that she had.
“It’s been awful and I’ve hated it,” Morris said. “I’m always looking, asking for what’s available, looking for better situations. I heard they were looking to fill [Four Winds] so I put my hat in the ring. So that’s all I did, I reached out and brought some samples.”
Securing a contract is one thing, but creating an atmosphere students and faculty can use worry-free is of the utmost importance to Morris.
“I know there’s a lot of changes around here and I’m not affiliated with the College,” Morris said. “I’m a private vendor that pays to be here. I just want to be a neutral, wonderful place for the students and for everybody.
“I’m just an open person. I’ve had my own share of challenges so I can feel that there’s a lot going on here and I just want to be a soft place to land for students,” Morris continued.
SaraFresh will be open after Fall Break for coffee, juice, salads, sandwiches and more from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Four Winds is expected to be open for students to enter beyond those hours with a student ID.