By Josette Keelor
MIDDLETOWN -- Café Gourmet is more than a food stop on a college campus. In the Student Union at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown, the café offers full-service meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it's open to everyone.
Co-owners Lisa Jakobsen and Kay Schroyer, who opened the Winchester meal assembly kitchen Gourmet on the Go in 2007, expanded to the college campus in 2011 to offer a food takeout station in Fairfax Hall.
They closed the Winchester location in 2012, and Schroyer said their intention in starting the café is to better serve the community.
Until summer, the smaller setup in Fairfax Hall will remain where it is, but with fewer options.
"They can get the grab and go that they're used to," Schroyer said. "They can get the burgers and hot dogs, sandwiches and soups."
Pizza has been moved to Café Gourmet, where the full kitchen includes a new pizza oven.
"Our pizza's way better than the pizza they can get over there," Schroyer said. Before, they would reheat pizzas ordered from The Italian Touch in Middletown. Now they use their own fresh ingredients added to dough from Hunt Brothers.
The cafe opened March 24, but in its first days one of the owners' biggest challenges was convincing students to make the five-minute walk from where they used to get food.
"They've had it that way for a long time, so it's going to be a cultural shock to have to walk to get food," Schroyer said.
But the café has another benefit -- the fitness center on the second floor of the Student Union, which drew 20-year-old Thomas Wagner on a recent afternoon.
"I come and work out here now, cause I'm on the rugby team and it's a great place to work out and get food in between classes," he said.
Wagner said he never purchased food at the Fairfax Hall location but plans to be in the café a lot.
"It's convenient and I think they have better food over here than they did," he said.
Anthony Hibl, 19, also rarely patronized the previous location but plans to frequent the café since he hangs out with friends in the Student Union anyway.
"It's nicer, it's bigger, it has more options," he said.
For breakfast, there's a biscuit plain or with sausage, bacon or chicken, egg and cheese ranging from $3.59 to $1.59. Homemade quiche comes with bacon and spinach or ham and broccoli.
"That's what makes it gourmet," Schroyer said. "Lisa makes it, it's good and it's fresh."
Lunch and dinner choices include panini sandwiches for $5.99, a hamburger or veggie burger for $3.59, hotdog for $1.59, and grilled cheese or peanut butter for $1.99.
The Hunk of Pizza is priced at $2.79, so far available in cheese and pepperoni only, but Jakobsen said she has plans for a kitchen garden where she'll grow more toppings.
"We'd love to be able to grow our own food, serve it in here and let the students have a hand in that," she said.
They also cater and plan to begin online orders once their website is updated.
The cafe is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed whenever the college is. Schroyer said their deal with the college makes it possible for Gourmet on the Go to exist in that location and during slow times of the year.
"If you're in a retail shopping center, obviously you're on a lease and you're paying rent," she said. "But we're on contract here. And we don't pay rent, we pay commission."
"We were really fortunate to get in here and really in this economy to get connected to an institution like this and have the traffic," she said. "So we landed on our feet, we made it through."
Cafe Gourmet is located in the Student Union at Lord Fairfax Community College, 173 Skirmisher Lane, Middletown. For more information, call 540-508-0950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or email@example.com>