February 19, 2016

Anabel’s Grocery Opening Pushed To Next Academic Year

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While Anabel’s Grocery was originally projected to open in February, the grocery store will most likely open at the beginning of the next academic year, according to its founders.

Both co-founders — S.A. executive vice president Emma Johnston ’16 and S.A. vice president of finance Matthew Stefanko ’16 — said they are comfortable moving the opening to August because of the faith they have in their team to manage the project over the summer.

“We just selected new people for the purchasing team, for IT, for our programming, and it will also allow us the opportunity to make sure that all the tech is in place before the new school year starts,” Johnston said. “The new team is making sure that registration and membership are something that run really smoothly within the store for the students that visit it.”

According to Stefanko, an August opening will allow time for the new board members to adjust to their positions.

Stefanko said the delay was something he and his team “always knew was a possibility.”

The process of the construction was “more bureaucratic than they had originally imagined.”

However, Stefanko said, Anabel’s could open within a week before the semester ends.

“We made an educated decision, based on the level of bureaucracy that exists within the construction process and our own readiness to launch the store, and made a determination that we would be able to more successfully launch in August or September than we would in April or May,” Stefanko said.

While the team aims to have an official opening at the beginning of the next academic school year, the team plans to hold an informal opening over the summer, according to Elizabeth Gorman ’18, current co-director of Anabel’s Grocery.

“This would allow the new team to test Anabel’s Grocery out on the smaller student body of summer students, so that in August when everyone’s back restocking their apartments, not knowing how to cook anything, we’re there with exactly what they want and how to do it,” Gorman said.

The Anabel’s team is using the delayed opening as a chance to focus on their food insecurity initiatives, including Anabel’s Meal Kit Builds which provides non-perishable food items in bulk free of charge to students, according to Stefanko.

“It turns out that the demand was even higher than we had predicted and what we had seen during Thanksgiving, and our February Meal Kit Build actually had about 375 students,” Stefanko said. “It’s one of those good and bad stories in a lot of ways — it’s good because we found demand and we supplied for it and that’s exciting, but obviously it’s bad and sort of an indication that this problem is a lot bigger than we had even imagined.”

Johnston said she hopes that students utilize the programming while they wait for Anabel’s to open.

“We’ll be having cooking classes at least twice a month, and then other large events that aim to address food insecurity in a more holistic way,” Johnston said.

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