When strolling into the third-floor lounge of Shea Hall on a Thursday night, one finds the room is lit up with fairy lights of all colors. It smells of espresso, and quiet chatter can be faintly heard from groups of students.
Some students play rousing games of chess while others clutch their beverages in comfy armchairs.
Now that the Collins residence hall is being renovated throughout the 2021-22 school year, the Collins Living-Learning Center and its student-operated Cheshire Café moved to Foster Quadrangle’s Shea Hall for the time being. After a couple weeks of moving materials over to Shea Hall and decorating the floor lounge, the café’s staff reopened the Chesh Sept. 9.
The café, affectionately nicknamed “the Chesh,” was created in the ‘90s, and until this fall semester, it resided in the Collins Living-Learning Center. It has come to represent a way of life in the Collins LLC.
“I think that it’s amazing how every time you walk into the Chesh it’s like a new experience,” regular customer Callaghan Maher said.The Foster lounge is about two times bigger than the Collins space, senior and co-manager Mike Randall said. Students will play games and talk with one another since the café has more space.
Halloween decorations line the windows. Community art and coloring pages hang next to a shelf full of board games. A chalkboard menu displays the specials for students, so they can order a late-night treat. A cheeky, stuffed cat from the movie “Alice in Wonderland” sits on the windowsill. An array of over two dozen different syrups like pumpkin spice, pomegranate and tiramisu line the counter so students can request a myriad of flavored beverages.
Collins LLC residents often flock to the café to hang out and absorb the ambiance. Collins LLC juniors Levi Gettleman and Keaton Clulow are regulars.
“It’s really if all of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the Cheshire Cat meets, like…,” Gettleman started to say.
“’90s psychedelic,” Clulow filled in.
The old Chesh used to be on the Collins ground floor, where the entry hallway was sky blue with painted images of Alice and playing cards. It also includes a stack of painted teacups that read “We’re all mad here.” Despite leaving it behind, Randall said the Foster space has recaptured the same aesthetic. Some of their regulars agree, saying the move has not really changed their experiences.
Co-managers Sarah Latona and Randall face the challenge of the space only being accessible to Foster and Collins LLC students. There’s also the difficulty of dragging groceries up three flights. But despite all these struggles, Collins LLC and Foster students have the benefit of late-night espresso and Wonderland vibes.
“It’s a looking glass that you can travel through to experience this place where the atmosphere is wonderful,” Gettleman said. “There’s so many different combinations, so many different syrups, so many different flavors, so many different possibilities.”