By Mac Crane
The Shakedown Café opened for the semester on September 23, to a packed dining room in the Gold Student Center. After five years in business, Pitzer’s student-run café is making some changes this year, but is already off to an impressive start.
“We beat our all-time sales record by $100,” said manager and senior, Kristin Dobbin. That makes Sunday’s opening the best single night on record for the restaurant. “We got a lot of good reviews.”
The Shakedown Burger was especially popular. As usual, the café was open from 6 to11 p.m. By 9 p.m. it was already out of hamburgers and “Secret Stash” sandwiches due to the remarkably high demand. The café also used an entire week’s worth of sweet potatoes in that one evening.
With all the business, the 16 new hires on the Shakedown staff quickly learned the ropes. Although any 5C student can work at the café, Pitzer students make up the entire staff of 35 because the work-study jobs are only open to Pitzer students. Jesse Gaddy, a manager, is enthusiastic about his team this year.
“Our team of managers is super dedicated,” he said. “There’s more extensive training of new employees now.” Gaddy has been with the café for four years and has seen it grow into a professional restaurant.
The opening night offered a basic menu of burgers, burritos, salads, and sandwiches, but customers can expect more variety in the weeks to come.
“The menu is going to change drastically,” Gaddy said. Every week there will be a different rotating entrée, and last week the Shakedown began offering flatbreads. The menu will also vary by season, depending on the produce and other seasonal ingredients. “We’re really trying to cater to the student population and what they want to eat, while staying true to our mission,” Gaddy said.
Since its creation, the Shakedown has been committed to providing organic options and educating its patrons about the food and associated process.
“No matter what they get, they can know their food is local, healthy, organic, and responsible,” Dobbin said. Aside from her managerial duties, Dobbin also works as the sorcerer and ensures the food is produced responsibly and sustainably. “I visit all of our farms,” she said.
Beyond its reputation for healthy and responsible dining, the Shakedown has long been a community gathering spot on campus. As in past years, the café will continue to host weekly events such as live music, open-mic nights, and televised events. In the coming weeks there will be parties to watch the presidential debates and election coverage.
“We’re open to having multiple events a week,” Gaddy said. “This is a student space and we want to keep it that way.”
Continuing a trend from last year, every month one of the Shakedown’s vendors will visit and educate students about the food process. Gaddy also hopes to start a new tradition of hosting a formal night once a month, complete with reservations, waiters, and a special menu.
After the success of the opening night, the upcoming semester for the Shakedown looks promising. The café is open Sunday through Thursday from 6-11 p.m.