Common Grounds café located on the second floor of Rauch Business Center. The café closed on Aug. 30, and it's unknown when it will reopen. (Sharon Jo/B&W Staff)

Common Grounds dining option in Rauch Business Center has closed its doors indefinitely

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Common Grounds, Rauch Business Center’s café that served Starbucks Coffee, house-made soups, hand-rolled sushi as well as hot and cold sandwiches, closed indefinitely on Aug. 30. 

Some students were surprised when they heard about Common Grounds’ closure. 

Joe Wesselman, ‘22, would typically visit Common Grounds two to three times a week to get his usual salad or the occasional turkey, bacon and ranch sandwich.

“I didn’t know Common Grounds was closed until I walked up to the doors and found a note on the door,”  Wesselman said. “I had planned on eating lunch there and had actually passed other places to eat on campus, so I was pretty disappointed to find out one of my favorite spots was closed.”

Wesselman was not the only one displeased by the news of Common Grounds closing. 

Michael Monahan, ‘22, who also frequented Common Grounds for a morning coffee, was disappointed to see one of his favorite locations closed indefinitely.

“As someone who was a remote student last year, Common Grounds was one of the areas on campus I was looking forward to coming back to the most,” Monahan said. “I had a routine going before COVID getting coffee there every morning, so it hurt to see this place closing after so long.”

Evan Rehrig, the marketing manager for Lehigh Dining, was saddened that Lehigh had to close Common Grounds.

He said the rise in COVID-19 cases led to a plethora of issues for Lehigh Dining.

“We are currently facing a myriad of challenges in dining services,” Rehrig said. “Industry-wide staff and labor shortages, supply chain issues, etc. These challenges, coupled with the recent rise in positive cases among the student body, led us to the difficult decision to close Common Grounds.”

Although there are other options available for students to dine on campus, for some students, it ends up being out of the way for them, rather than the convenient location in the business center. 

One of Wesselman’s main concerns with Common Grounds closing was the lack of dining areas closely accessible to him.

“I have a lot of classes in Rauch, and I really enjoyed the food there, so it was a great spot to stop between classes,” Wesselman said. “Without a meal plan, going to Rathbone isn’t really an option and nothing beats the convenience of that location.”

Wesselman and Monahan are looking forward to the day Common Grounds reopens.

 However, the closure will remain indefinitely until the issues are resolved.

“It’s not something we are pleased about having to do or the way we envisioned the semester starting as we have a loyal customer base at Common Grounds and enjoy the interactions with our dining guests there,” Rehrig said. “We hope this is a temporary closure, but right now, it is hard to say how long Common Grounds will be closed.”

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