3/16/18 Greyhouse Renovation, new seating

One of the main objectives of the renovated Greyhouse was increasing its seating area. In this picture, a customer sits on a new bench right across the main entrance of the coffee shop.

A good place for meeting a friend over a cup of freshly brewed coffee, studying for an upcoming midterm or peacefully enjoying a book, Greyhouse Coffee & Supply Co. attracts Purdue students and members of the Greater Lafayette community for various reasons.

Greyhouse is one of the most iconic and popular coffee shops in downtown West Lafayette. A part of the community since 2008, it closed for reconstruction earlier this year. The coffee shop used its Facebook page to keep the community updated on the renovation.

On Jan. 25, Greyhouse announced its small-scale opening in a newly purchased space on State Street, and then on March 5, it announced a grand reopening.

While a lot of people come to enjoy fresh foods and beverages at Greyhouse, not many know that the coffee shop is actually a nonprofit organization owned by Campus House. In 2008, the college-aged church community fulfilled its desire to provide a “cultural crossroads” for everyone working and studying on campus by opening the coffee shop, according to its website.

As a nonprofit, Greyhouse gives back to the community after covering its own expenses. According to its website, extra earnings go toward supporting such causes as homeless shelters and hunger-relief initiatives in the Lafayette area. However, Greyhouse also looks beyond just the local community, extending its efforts globally. The coffee shop takes pride in its high-quality ingredients and supports coffee suppliers from such countries as Rwanda, Thailand and Guatemala.

Greyhouse also encourages the local creative community by providing its walls for artists, opening its floor for musicians almost every Friday night, and helping host Starry Night, an annual music and arts festival held on State Street.

Greyhouse’s status as a nonprofit may make many wonder how it could afford a renovation project of such scale.

“We’ve been saving for this renovation for a long time and were mostly self-funded,” said Alison Wisthuff, a manager at the shop.

But still, there was a gap to fill. Campus House relied on volunteers to help fund and build the coffee shop back in 2008, and it asked the community again to help with the renovation. Private donations and a Kickstarter campaign helped fund the reconstruction.

Management started making plans about the reconstruction around a year ago, according to Wisthuff, and there were a number of reasons Greyhouse couldn’t push renovation any later.

“First of all, we wanted to create more seats for more people to enjoy Greyhouse,” Wisthuff said.

Apart from running out of space, the coffee shop also needed to increase the efficiency of their service. Reorganizing already-available space and purchasing a room in the adjacent building on State Street allowed Greyhouse to achieve its reconstruction goals.

Cube & Company managed the renovation and ARKOR Architects & Engineers created the design, while Simon Construction headed up the entire project.

Some of the changes attract attention right away: an increased seating area that features dark wood benches and a new tall table facing State Street, a second cash register, another shiny espresso machine and a huge orange juice squeezer in a much more spacious kitchen area.

One current Greyhouse staff member appreciates the improvements.

“Everything is set up so much more efficiently. I think it will help serve the community much better,” said Amy Craker, who is also a senior in the College of Agriculture.

As for the new space on State Street, Greyhouse’s management has multipurpose plans. For example, it could be used as an additional seating area during busy times, rented for private events or used as a quick ordering and serving station during such events as Starry Night.

However, increased kitchen space means more than just improved serving efficiency for Greyhouse.

“(A bigger kitchen) gave us the opportunity to explore the addition of doughnuts to our menu,” Wisthuff said.

She recollected that when management was deciding on how to utilize new kitchen space, it wanted to serve the community something not yet available in the area. The choice fell on doughnuts.

Even though the Discount Den now offers this sweet treat, Greyhouse plans on competing by offering doughnuts with unique flavors. On Monday, they served the doughnuts for the first time, featuring vanilla bean-glazed yeast, cinnamon and sugar cake, double-chocolate old-fashioned cake and orange pistachio doughnuts. Wisthuff promised that the variety will increase in the coming month.

2018 marks not just a grand renovation for Greyhouse, but also its 10-year anniversary, happening this summer. Wisthuff shared plans to invite Greyhouse alumni, which she said now include hundreds.

Micah Ito, a junior in the Polytechnic Institute, has just joined Greyhouse’s staff.

“When I heard that they were remodeling, I thought it would be a good time to jump in and become part of the community that’s given so much to me,” he said.

Ito remembers always being a big fan of the atmosphere at the coffee shop.

Creating that comfortable atmosphere and encouraging a better conversation through the world of coffee still remains Greyhouse’s mission, even though the smell of paint might still be in the air.

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