After over 500 days of shuttered doors and empty aisles, The Corp has begun the process of reopening their on-campus locations as Georgetown University transitions to in-person operations.
Between Aug. 23 and 25, The Corp reopened four locations across campus, providing community members with increased food options and a return to pre-pandemic campus life. The Corp will open the rest of their on-campus locations throughout September, marking the first time the organization will function fully in-person since the university began virtual operations in March 2020.
Reopening the storefronts was a daunting yet rewarding task for The Corp to undertake, according to Matt Davis (SFS ’22), CEO and President of The Corp.
“It was a lot to put on and honestly when we were planning it out, we felt confident, but we had never done this before so we didn’t know if it was actually going to be pulled off,” Davis said in an interview with The Hoya.
As of Aug. 25, four Corp locations have reopened with full operating status for the fall 2021 semester: Vital Vittles, a grocery store in the Leavey Center; Hoya Snaxa, a convenience store in Southwest Quad; Uncommon Grounds, a coffee shop in the Leavey Center; and More Uncommon Grounds, a coffee stand located in the Intercultural Center.
This is not the Corp’s first time navigating a reopening; last winter, the Corp reopened two locations on campus with reduced operating status: The Corp Cafe at Grounded, a breakfast and coffee shop in the Healey Family Student Center, and Vital Vittles. The decision came after students in on-campus stability housing raised concerns about limited food options. However, this is the first time The Corp has reopened with full operating status since closing due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The reopening of Corp locations has made campus feel like it used to before the pandemic, according to Maeve Williams (COL ’22), an undergraduate student who frequents Corp locations.
“Yates opened recently and now with The Corp opening, it’s like, wow, things are really getting back to normal, and things are kind of going back to the Georgetown that those of us who were here pre-COVID, that we remember and it’s exciting,” Williams said in an interview with The Hoya.
Davis said the reopening of Grounded and Vittles in Jan. 2021 helped to prepare The Corp with the reopening process for this fall.
“We had never done contactless pick up, everything had been in person and very physical,” Davis said. “To go from that to having to be totally contactless for the university to allow us to open was a big challenge, and that was all tested back in February.”
During the spring semester, The Corp offered online ordering for students; while this service is no longer available, Davis says the organization is considering bringing the program back.
The Corp expands campus dining by providing students with food and drink options not connected to official Georgetown dining locations. While The Corp accepts the use of Flex Dollars — money allocated in meal plans that can be used at Georgetown dining locations — the organization is not managed by Hoya Hospitality or Aramark, the university’s food service provider.
Helen Martin (COL ’22), Director of Uncommon Grounds, said she is excited the Corp can provide more diverse food options for Georgetown community members.
“I think a lot of it has to do with just the limited food access on campus, so the fact that Uncommon Grounds can help fill that void is really exciting for us,” Martin said.
Currently, The Corp’s largest locations on campus — Hilltoss and Grounded, a salad shop and coffee shop in the Healey Family Student Center, and Midnight Mug, a coffee shop in Lauinger Library — are closed due to understaffing issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Midnight Mug is scheduled to reopen Sept. 20, while Hilltoss and Grounded will reopen Sept. 27.
Increased community engagement is one of the biggest markers of success for The Corp, according to Davis.
“I think the real barometer of judging how successful it’s been is seeing just how the community has received it and to see people excited and wanting to go to The Corp,” Davis said. “In my mind that shows that we’re doing our job of serving students serving the community.”