Perks of the job, new Black Rock on campus

Coming soon to the main MHCC campus: Black Rock Coffee Bar.

The coffee bar, expected to open within the next two weeks in the currently vacant space adjacent to the campus library, will be operated by the same management staff as the Black Rock outlet on Troutdale Road, said Edward Yunkherr, owner of Geyer-Yunkherr LLC. He opened the coffee bar there about two years ago.

Yunkherr said the library spot seeks to “provide an awesome place for our customers,” with WiFi, local bagels (Jazzy Bagels, made here in Gresham) and other “grab-and-go” fare.

“We definitely have a lot of college students go through the Troutdale location,” said Yunkherr. So, the announcement that MHCC had put out an RFP (Request for Proposal, to solicit bidders for the available space) made it seem like a logical step, he said.

With the closure of the Reader’s Cup (where Black Rock will open) and the St. Helens Bistro last winter, Mt. Hood students’ food choices were extremely reduced. The only options on campus for food have been through Vista Dining, which closes by 2:30 p.m. most weekdays, and the MHCC Bookstore café.

Back in April, a “task force” determined what students wanted to see on campus when it comes to food services, according to Jamie Simms, campus director of financial services. Simms said the top three needs established were providing “a wide variety of fast fresh food at a reasonable price;” making evening food services available; and bringing rotating food carts to the campus.

Simms said Black Rock has leased the space for a five-year contract.

The coffee bar will remain open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, meaning that students who take evening classes or who stay on campus past 5 will have choices for coffee and food. “Our managers got together…and we said, ‘Yeah, this could be a really cool thing,’ ” said Yunkherr.

The Bookstore café is bracing for its new neighbor.

“When we heard that Black Rock was opening in the library it didn’t come as a huge shock. We knew the college had been looking for new people to run the cafeteria and open new coffee shops,” said Jackie Brown, a student and Bookstore café employee, by email. “What we didn’t expect was for such a major local coffee branch to go into the building next to us.

“We are a little concerned that we might lose some business,” Brown wrote. “Thankfully, we have an awesome group of regular customers who make a huge impact on the coffee shop… I personally think it might be kind of fun to have some competition on campus. And also to offer the students and staff some variety for their coffee needs.”

Regarding the Bookstore café, Yunkherr said, “There’s a coffee shop there, and it’s a great coffee shop, but I think as a company we’ll bring a really nice spot to gather, if that makes sense. Our biggest thing that we take pride in is our speed, so I think we’ll be able to get people what they need as soon as possible.

“So, really, really quick food and beverages, ’cause I know college students are always in a hurry,” he said.

Tentatively, the campus Black Rock outlet is slated to open Monday, Oct. 16.

Hours of operation will be 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Thursday (closing at 5 p.m. on Friday), and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

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