The new academic year at Transylvania is bringing big changes to the campus dining scene, including a newly renamed cafe featuring locally roasted coffee and handmade baked goods.
In June, Transylvania became the first college in Kentucky to partner with Bon Appétit Management Company, an award-winning industry pioneer whose mission is “food service for a sustainable future.” Bon Appétit chefs began serving campers, incoming students and staff over the summer, but a full menu and new cafe will debut as students return to campus in August.
Welcoming them back will be the new Gratz Perk Cafe, featuring Nate’s Coffee and menu items from Epping’s on Eastside. Sourcing locally roasted coffee and bakery items is key to Bon Appétit’s philosophy, which centers on bringing fresh, healthy, chef-driven and sustainable food choices to students, faculty and staff.
“We are committed to sourcing as many products as we can from within 150 miles of our cafe. Supporting local farmers, producers and artisans helps to weave the fabric of the communities that we are a part of,” said Chris Harris, Bon Appétit’s general manager at Transylvania.
“To partner with businesses like Nate’s Coffee and Epping’s helps to push the envelope forward of raising awareness of — and the importance of — where your food comes from, how it was made and what kind of impact we have on the health of our community and our planet. And we just think that tastes better,” Harris added.
While Bon Appétit will operate Gratz Perk Cafe, the name and choice of coffee was a campus-led decision. On May 15, three local roasters brought their coffees to campus for a taste test. The university community then voted on their favorite brews. Same with the name, as several different options were offered for voting during the tasting and in an online poll. In both cases, Nate’s Coffee and Gratz Perk Cafe were the overwhelming choices.
“We were thrilled to be selected by the students, and we can’t wait to learn more how they like their coffee. We had so much fun at the tasting and look forward to more coffee events,” said Trish Murphy, bean maven at Nate’s Coffee. “Our founder Nate Polly has a saying: Making your cup of coffee is the one perfect thing you can do every day. We love that Bon Appétit is bringing local food and drink to universities. It’s great that students are engaging in the local food movement.”
Several Nate’s Coffee blends will be available at Gratz Perk Cafe, including a specially roasted charity blend.
“We are roasting the Old Morrison Blend in honor of Transylvania University,” Murphy explained. “It is a medium-dark blend of Ethiopian and organically sourced Mexican coffees with notes of chocolate-covered berries. This blend will be part of our charity program, as $1 per pound will go towards a different charity every month.”
According to Murphy, the other roasts on campus will be Yo! Wake Up, a breakfast blend of organically sourced Mexican and Guatemalan coffees; Nate’s Espresso Blend; Swiss Water Processed Decaf Sumatra; and a seasonal coffee.
Along with the coffee, cafe patrons will have a choice of food items, including baked goods such as pop tarts, croissants, granola bars, bagels, gluten free muffins, brownies and cookies from the recently opened Epping’s on Eastside. Bringing these items to campus not only supports local businesses, but meets Bon Appétit’s goal of sourcing as many ingredients as they can from small, owner-operated food-crafters near Lexington.
“We are so pleased to be supplying the baked goods for Transylvania students this year,” said Cole Arimes, executive chef and owner of Epping’s on Eastside. “The university’s dedication to providing local foods is a perfect match for our team’s passion for working with Kentucky’s farmers to make the freshest baked goods in town.”
Epping’s pastry chef, Laura Clay, added, “We’ll be hard at work in the bakery every day to handcraft pastries, granola bars, croissants and our signature homemade pop tarts for the cafe.” According to Clay, Epping’s sources flour, eggs, honey and fruit from small farms and grain mills with high-quality products. “Transylvania’s focus on buying local is making such a positive impact not just for our business, but for the small farms we love working with.”
The new Gratz Perk Cafe will begin service on new student Move-In Day, Friday, Aug. 23. The cafe is housed inside the Glenn Building on Old Morrison Circle and is open to the public.