In past semesters, Griff’s Roost — the coffee shop on campus — was typically bustling with students rushing between classes or grabbing a coffee while studying in the Bassis Center. However, things are a little different this semester to accommodate safety regulations amid the pandemic.
Tables have been removed to accommodate social distancing and masks are required inside the building when patrons aren’t drinking or eating. However, the remaining tables are still typically empty.
“In the afternoon, there’s like one other person,” said Marley Dominguez, a senior who is part of the Legacy Scholars program at Westminster College.
Before COVID-19, Dominguez would spend extensive time in the Center for Centers inside the Bassis Center. Now, it brings a much quieter scene.
“We used to study almost every day in the Center for Centers,” said Salma Guerrero, another legacy member. “But now with COVID, I’d say maybe only once a week.”
To adapt to the extreme decrease in customers, the staff was cut to one barista: Andrew Norris. Despite never working as a barista before, Norris now single handedly runs the show.
Norris sat down with The Forum to speak on what it’s like to work alone andc
Some answers have been lightly edited for conciseness and clarity.
Q: How many employees currently work at Griff’s Roost?
A: I’m the only employee at Griff’s Roost. There were a good amount of baristas before COVID.
The two main [baristas] had children and had to go take care of them because of the pandemic. I was hired as the sole barista because they also had to cut down hours. So now it’s just 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and [I work] Monday through Friday.
Q: Does it feel overwhelming to be the only employee?
A: It can. Just because, like, everything is up to me. But also, it’s nice to have my own independence and run it how I want to.
Q: How long have you been a barista?
A: This was actually my first time. I didn’t really have anyone to train me either, so it was just kind of ‘do it myself and figure it out.’ I mean it worked out pretty well.
Q: What’s your favorite part about being a barista?
A: Free coffee is always nice, can’t go wrong with that. It’s nice to have an outlet to socialize with people, even if it’s just as small as a ‘How are you?’ type of deal.
It just gets hard to have like face-to-face interactions with people.
Q: What changes has Griff’s Roost made to accommodate the pandemic?
A: Well, I mean, there’s all the plexiglass. There used to be a bunch of coffee pots out with different types of roasts but now there’s just one and it’s behind the counter with me.
Apparently, it used to be a lot busier here as well and I mean I’ve never even gotten to experience that. It’s always pretty dead here.
Q: How many customers do you have per day right now?
A: I think we average about 50. It should definitely be a lot more than that.
Q: Do many students study in the Bassis Center anymore?
A: There’s usually at least one or two [people] at most times, but definitely not that many.
Q: Do you miss the environment of coffee shops pre-pandemic?
A: I mean, yeah, who wouldn’t? It just feels good to be around a lot of people. Coffee shops are such a great place to just hang out and exist and people watch.
It just gets hard to do that when everyone has half their face covered.
Q: What is your favorite drink to make?
A: Probably a mocha. It’s just nice. Least favorite [is] Cuban revolver. It has six shots in it.