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Chum’s seeks funding for renovations

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Front Page


Cholmondley's, or "Chum's" as Brandeis Students often refer to it, is a well known, and student run, on-campus coffeehouse. According to General Manager Nirja Parekh '09, however, the popular coffeehouse has been in a state of decline since 2006 with problems including floors, furniture, windows, and kitchen equipment.<br /><i>PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot</i>

Cholmondley's, or "Chum's" as Brandeis Students often refer to it, is a well known, and student run, on-campus coffeehouse. According to General Manager Nirja Parekh '09, however, the popular coffeehouse has been in a state of decline since 2006 with problems including floors, furniture, windows, and kitchen equipment.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Chum’s, the well-known Brandeis coffeehouse, is seeking university funding to fix the rapidly worsening state of disrepair that has recently plagued the Castle-bound coffee shop. General Manager Nirja Parekh ’09 hopes that renovations might take place as early as winter break.

According to Parekh, Chum’s has been in a declining state since she began working there in 2006. The main problems include the floors, old windows, immobile furniture, and kitchen equipment. The goal is to “streamline [the business] to have more energy to retain the Chum’s vibe,” explained Parekh, who has seen Chum’s transformation from an ill-used club coffeehouse venue into a thriving business.

“Chum’s schedule is really full,” she explained, stating that there has been a strong increase in student presence.

While the turnout has been impressive, with the coffee shop often full to bursting on any given night, Parekh mentioned that “it’s really run-down…we’re kind of making ends meet.”

She further explained, “students forget that it’s an entity that needs to be sustained through funding.” Aside from employee paychecks, all money put into Chum’s comes directly from Chum’s.

Parekh said that oftentimes food sales go directly into restocking the food stores, with no excess money to spare. “Our budget is rollover profit from last year,” Parekh added.

While Chum’s has not received funding from the university in the past, last semester, students were able to vote to use Student Activities Fee rollover money to renovate Chum’s. However, students voted to use that money to renovate the weight room in Gosman.

Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Jean Eddy, who has been working with Parekh and the Chum’s staff on gaining funds through Facilities, explained that “at the time when the student government asked what [the students would] spend $100,000 on there was more money in the treasury [than expected].” Eddy hoped that some extra money would be allocated to repairing Chum’s.

The bulk of the money, had Chum’s received the SAF rollover money, would have gone into new floors and windows, which are both in bad disrepair. Eddy explained, “people have been focused with it not looking in disrepair.” She added that she did not wish for the repairs to overly change the aesthetics of Chum’s as it is now. For the windows, Eddy was adamant that “they’re repaired the right way,” maintaining the Castle’s periodicity.

In addition to problems with the windows, Parekh is concerned with the kitchen’s functionality, as she noted that microwaves are often just donations from people who had worked there, and that until recently the coffeehouse did not have a proper griddle, but a donated George Foreman grill instead.

While Parekh believes Chum’s is in need of repairs, she does not want it to change too much. “[Renovating Chum’s] isn’t a pressure to change…it’s a pressure to commit to the idea of Chum’s.”

Eddy agreed. Chum’s was one of her first stops at Brandeis when she began working for the university eight years ago. She aided in renovating the hangout then, and would love to see it cleaned up and improved again. “Neat things happen there…it’s a pretty special place,” she added.

Parekh, though, has a simple overall goal: let Chum’s endure, in a Chum’s-ian fashion. This means retaining things like the grilled PB&J while being allowed to expand and diversify the menu and clientele, but this can only be done with proper funding, she said. Parekh, though, does not want to not pass the buck to the students: “Chum’s is the only place where you can get a cup of coffee for a dollar,” she stated.

Parekh added, “funding should come from the university, not the students’ wallets.”

Both Eddy and Parekh seek a solution to the Chum’s problem, with Parekh and the staff even coming in to repaint the shop with their own money. However, this will not be a permanent solution, but Parekh has confidence that the coffeehouse can maintain its status and perhaps even improve more. She stated it simply, “It’s sad I won’t get to be part of the changes…Chum’s has the potential to be meaningful [to the students]…there’s a potential there that we’re excited about.”