By Lauren Ebben/Editor-in-Chief
The Palace Coffee shop location on Amarillo College’s Washington street campus is negotiating an early release from its contract, as discussed by the AC board of regents at their monthly meeting on Feb. 25. Officials have confirmed that the coffee shop will remain on campus until at least May of this year.
According to Mark White, executive vice president and general counsel, the main struggle for Palace is its location and accessibility.
“Because this coffee shop is located in the center of our campus, we are getting very little neighborhood and/or other city traffic to the coffee shop. Parking is a barrier. It’s just not going to be successful,” he said.
The coffee shop has also had low traffic from faculty on campus, according to Russell Lowery-Hart, AC president.
“The faculty were the ones that requested the coffee shop and they’re the ones that aren’t using it, so we’ve got to figure out how to engage them,” said Lowery-Hart.
In January, the shop even changed its hours due to lack of business in late afternoons.
White said that even if AC faculty, staff, students and administration used the coffee shop “robustly” it would still be very difficult for them to “make it.”
Johnny Mize, vice chair of the board of regents, said he’d like to see the college find a solution, but that the situation isn’t just one-sided.
“We spent a lot of money on making that space for them, too,” Mize said. “We want this to be a good venture for both of us.”
Palace Coffee entered into a three-year contract with the college in November 2017.
“We selected Palace because it was the only coffee vendor at that time that gave us a proposal such that they would take the risk instead of us,” White said. “It has indeed proved to be risky for them.”
In 2018, Palace lost around $40,000, $29,000 in 2019 and are expected to lose nearly that much in 2020, according to White.
“Palace likes us,” White said, “They like doing business with us and they like our students so much, they told us they would stay if they could break even. They just don’t see how they could do it.”
The regents have not made any decision on what will replace Palace Coffee on campus.
Also at the board meeting, regents approved certificates and degree programs for general construction technology and construction technology with an emphasis in carpentry.
The board voted to approve an independent contractor agreement between Amarillo College and DK Smith Construction Project Management LLC for a master plan program manager. Work on AC’s master plan construction projects is a year behind schedule, according to the board.
Approval was also given to a developing residential area annexed by the City of Amarillo to the Amarillo Junior College District. Financial reports for the college and budget amendments were also discussed.
The next board meeting will be held on Apr. 2 on the West Campus in Building A, Room 109.