Blenders, the only coffee shop at Lane Community College, will be leaving after June 30 as part of the outsourcing of the school’s Food Services, currently run by David Ferris, which have seen declining profits over the years.
However, as part of Food Service, Blenders has its own story as the often-forgotten-about facet of the department on the second floor separated from everyone else down below.
Taya Ream started working in the coffee shop in 1998 and has since become the integral leader that makes Blenders what it is. In fact, the coffee shop didn’t even have a name at that time. It was just there and located downstairs in what is now The Renaissance Room at the time being led by Jack Denny.
“Blenders was the last concept to reopen after the [Center Building] remodel,” Ream said, adding “when I learned that we were on a separate floor than the rest of Food Service, I was skeptical.”
The current Blenders location was allegedly designed and planned to be used as another large Study Room.
Ream’s skepticism rang true as the years went by. Initially, she felt that “when we first reopened, being on the second floor hurt our business,” she said. “Blenders is not listed on any sign saying that we are on the second floor.” The coffee shop still regularly “gets new customers, sometimes longtime students, who don’t know we are here.”
If asked whether Blenders received fair treatment during the recent months as proposals for outsourcing for being considered by the Board, Ream said she didn’t think so.
“Working in Blenders has been great, my extended family has grown with coworkers and customers.” She doesn’t feel that the administration has taken any of that into consideration.
“I do not feel like the Board, themselves, spent much time deciding to go through the decision to cut Food Services and I don’t feel like we are being treated fairly,” she said.
Then there’s the committed staff of Blenders. Ream, expressing her utmost appreciation for them, said “we have several long-term staff who have been with us for years. In those years, they have stood by our side, worked through five management changes in five years, through the remodel, through position changes, and venue closures.”
As Blenders’ run comes to an end, the staff “have earned sick time which they will not be paid for, and are now being discouraged from using,” she said. One staff member had their hours stripped tremendously after calling in sick for a couple of days.
The baristas of Blenders will diverge on five separate paths once the coffee shop closes its doors for the last time.
Taya Ream will be transferring to a different department on campus. Liz Dawson will be continuing her work in the Center for Meeting and Learning. Mikey Young will be going to work at Spectrum. Tina Sablan will continue to work at her second job while looking for other employment. Cody Norton is looking for his next opportunity.
As for what will happen to Blenders’ current space, Ream said “to the best of my knowledge, they will replace us with a local coffee business.” She added that “in my opinion, it would be nice to see Global Delights, who we already serve, come in and make great drinks for our Blenders customers.” However, Dutch Bros. is a company that is rumored to have been floated around as a possible replacement.
For those concerned, a supportive customer has started a petition outside of Blenders for those to sign in opposition.