Students and faculty gathered Tuesday for the grand opening of Saxbys, an entirely student-run cafe providing food and refreshments on the second floor of Alderman Library. Attendees had the chance to explore the all-day breakfast menu and hear Saxbys chief executive officer Nick Bayer speak on the company’s core values and experiential learning model. As a regional chain, Saxbys locations across universities are entirely student-run, encouraging hands-on learning outside of the classroom.
In his speech, Bayer said that Saxbys positions itself as both a coffee shop and social entrepreneurship initiative. A Philadelphia-based company, Saxbys locations are businesses operated entirely by students and are located exclusively on university campuses. Bayer said that Saxbys’ partnership with the University began just over a year ago. Now integrated into Alderman Library, the company will allow its student employees to conduct business operations independently.
Saxbys’ mission is “Make Life Better,” with a goal of fostering experiential learning for students.
University students have the chance to independently manage Saxbys, moving beyond classroom learning to gain hands-on, business management experience. Through this process, students both operate the cafe and manage its finances entirely independently — a task Bayer says students are prepared for.
“This business is going to be exclusively run by undergraduate students in perpetuity. The students will receive academic credit, they will receive wages and they will have full responsibility of [the] business’ profits and losses,” Bayer said. “The caliber of [students] here at U.Va. [are] ready for this opportunity.”
Students can apply for team member positions at Saxbys irrespective of their major. Beyond financial compensation, Bayer said that Saxbys also offers opportunities for skill development through academic credit and short courses that grant students skill certificates known as microcredentials.
“Depending on what college [the student] is in, what their major is or is going to be, we can apply [academic credit] for individual students accordingly,” Bayer said. “[Saxbys] will benefit them [on] whatever career path they choose.”
With Alderman opening just one month ago, students have been eager to enjoy the new study space and look forward to enjoying Saxbys’ new menu. The menu includes all-day breakfast sandwiches, cold brew and smoothies, and the cafe’s hours align with common study times. Second-year Education student Megan Life said that she looks forward to the new space.
“It’s going to be awesome to have another coffee spot on Grounds … the library just opened, but I’m already here all of the time, so I am really excited about that,” Life said.
Other students said that the Saxbys’ location and hours are convenient for class schedules. With hours ranging from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Second-year College student Caroline McLaughlan said that Saxbys’ hours and location make pickup simpler.
“I'm really excited about the central location,” McLaughlan said. “I feel like a lot of people are studying in Alderman constantly, so it's so convenient to just grab a coffee on the way, especially later in the day.”
Second-year College student Catherine Gregoire agreed about the convenience, and looks forward to trying out the menu.
“I also think [that] having another coffee place other than Starbucks [is] nice … I feel like just having some variety is awesome,” Gregoire said. “The library is so quiet and study-focused, [while Saxbys] is so fun and lively.”
Following the opening ceremony, Saxbys remained busy, and the cafe is continuing to take orders in person and through the Grubhub app. Applications for student employee positions at Saxbys remain open.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly called the cafe “Saxbys Coffee” instead of “Saxbys” and also referred to “make life better” as the company's motto, rather than its mission. These errors have been updated.