With safety measures in place, Yali’s Cafe reopened its Stanley Hall location on campus Monday after its closure in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yali’s Cafe in Stanley Hall is the only on-campus location to reopen, said Yali’s Cafe co-owner Elan Lieber. Along with reopening its Stanley Hall location, Yali’s launched a mobile app Monday with an online ordering service so customers can order food and drinks to go.
Through the app, Yali’s Cafe hopes to make ordering more contactless and digital, Lieber said.
“A lot of this is uncharted territory as you can imagine,” Lieber said. “There is the excitement of when you open a new location, that buzz of who is going to come or what it’s going to be like, but then there are also nerves. We want to do this in the most safe and sustainable way for both our employees and our campus community.”
Normally bustling with students and other customers, Yali’s Cafe was initially hesitant to create an online app before the pandemic started because it would add to its already large influx of orders, Lieber said. With the onset of the coronavirus, Yali’s Cafe began developing the app in March as a way to safely deliver food and drinks.
The app allows customers to order online and pick up at a station set up outside Yali’s, Lieber said. The Yali’s Cafe Stanley Hall location has also set up markers inside that are six feet apart to enforce social distancing.
“It’s not a huge bells and whistles, ten thousand different loyalty programs or anything like that, but it is an easy and friendly way to grab your coffee,” Lieber said.
Fellow Yali’s co-owner Ayal Amzel said they are also nervous about reopening because there are far fewer students on campus and hope to make enough sales.
If the Stanley Hall location does well, Lieber said he hopes to open the two other Yali’s Cafe locations on campus. He added that with the Stanley Hall location, he wishes to support the full-time staff and create a sense of family through their hard work.
Despite being closed over the summer, Yali’s Stanley Hall Cafe was able to pay their full-time nonstudent employees with donations from campus and customers so that its staff could more easily “pay the rent, buy food, all of those kinds of things,” Amzel said.
“It was not a lot, but it was enough to help them through it,” Amzel said. “We and our employees are extremely grateful and we are moved by the generosity of our customers and the community of the university.”