With finals approaching, ‘tis the season not just for stress and pain-filled hours of studying but also of booming business for cafes.
Among the multitude of cafes around campus, the Free Speech Movement Cafe stands out as one of the more popular locations to study, as illustrated in its increase in revenues during Reading, Review and Recitation Week.
The cafe, which honors the student protests for free speech at UC Berkeley during the 1960s, sees about a 10 percent increase in sales during the week before finals that is primarily due to the cafe’s extension of hours, according to the cafe’s manager, Jaime Diaz.
The cafe has a open-24-hours policy for the last two weeks of the semester as part of its partnership with the university’s library.
Along with Moffitt Library and Gardner Main Stacks, the cafe will open at 8 a.m. on Dec. 3 and will remain open until 7 p.m. on the last night of finals, Dec. 14.
The FSM, however, is not the only cafe around campus that sees an increase in sales during finals. Starbucks, located on Oxford Street, has an approximate 10 percent increase in sales as well during the end of the semester. Brewed Awakening on Euclid Avenue estimates its sales increase about 25 percent.
Starbucks manager Natalie Clem said she does does not think increasing her cafe’s operation hours would make a large difference in revenue due to the lack of turnover rate that is often seen during finals, as students will often stay at the cafe to study without purchasing extra items, therefore not making a large impact on revenue.
The FSM has a similar problem with turnover rate, as students will stay in the cafe for irregularly long periods of time and only make a few purchases, Diaz said. He said he is fine with students staying at the cafe throughout the night — that’s what the 24-hour policy is there for. However, when students begin to make the cafe’s benches into makeshift beds, then he asks them to leave.
“It gets to be disruptive to the other customers,” he said.
Although the cafe is not unique in its increased profits, it is clear that the cafe has a special spot in the campus’s heart during dead week — as illustrated in the crowd of students who waited for the cafe to open the Sunday before RRR Week. An increase in hours of operation is strenuous for employees at the cafe. They usually receive help from the company’s various coffee shops, such as Caffe Strada and Cafe Zeb, and some employees work overtime.
“It’s worth it,” said UC Berkeley sophomore Jennifer Hwang, who sat outside the cafe for about half an hour before it was open. Hwang said she prefers the FSM because of its location on campus, and she does not go to many other cafes during RRR Week.
The cafe responds to the high demand of students during finals by adjusting their inventory. During the strenuous week of studying, Diaz said he increases inventory of all the cafe’s usual items, but he especially increases the inventory of espresso, energy drinks and “anything chocolate” — like the cafe’s espresso brownies.
He estimates that Red Bull sales increase by about 200 percent.
Sales of the cafe’s various espresso drinks increase as well. One of the more popular items is “spiders,” which are coffees with an extra shot of espresso.
“For even myself, running 24 hours is hard,” Diaz said. “But it’s just 10 days and not as bad as the stress students have to go through.”
Contact Alex Berryhill at [email protected].