Daniel Ketchelos — Staff Writer
55th Avenue, one of Dordt University’s student-led coffee shops, is adding nightly events to its regular schedule. While right now these new events include streaming sports games and TV series’, they may soon include other events like live music and trivia nights.
Students often study at 55th, but FLAME, Dordt’s business club which runs the campus coffee shops, hopes that adding nightly events will increase the number of students in 55th and boost sales.
“We’ve been trying to figure out how we can shift the culture in this space since quiet study spaces don’t sell smoothies,” Isaac Rohne, the Managerial President for FLAME said. “The hope is that if you stick around to watch the game, you might also grab a smoothie or cookie too.”
This shift in culture at 55th is a response to how many students just pass through the area instead of hanging out with their friends. FLAME is hoping to change this space so students have more reasons for sticking around in the evenings.
“We started brainstorming on how we can bring people to this space [55th] for a reason,” Tim Klein, professor of business administration and FLAME club sponsor, said. “[We asked] ‘How do we make this a destination where students can hang out?’ And this [streaming] was one thing that we saw as a way to bring people together.”
Every week different events will be hosted each night. Some nights, mainly Mondays and Thursdays, will host football games and other athletics, while Tuesdays and Wednesdays will host other television series such as The Bachelor/Bachelorette or Hallmark movies.
“We’ve noticed that for the last few years, our 55th sales haven’t been doing as well, and so we asked around and people mentioned they wanted 55th to be more of a hang-out spot,” Nathan Wanninger, the 2021-2022 FLAME Accountant, said. “As we brainstormed, we heard a lot of people on campus talking about hangout events for The Bachelor, and people watching Monday and Thursday Night Football.”
55th also plans to stream away-games for Dordt sports teams.
“We thought maybe if we offered Dordt games that aren’t on campus, we could retain more people in this area,” Wanninger said.
With Dordt’s institutional shift to Coca-Cola products, FLAME plans to possibly add further concessions to the 55th menu.
“Coke has been great as far as working with us to add different products,” Rohne said. “So, coming soon there might be either a popcorn machine, a nacho machine, or both.”
55th hopes adding these events and additional concessions will help move traffic away from their competitor, the Grille.
“The late-night meal exchange at the grille has been our biggest competitor over the last four years,” Asher Brown, a FLAME manager, said. “Trying to get late-night snack options, like popcorn, nachos, or hot dogs, for people that want those late-night snack options will hopefully help our sales.”
In addition to having events, 55th is hoping to increase the availability of having a space for students to hang out in.
“We’ve talked about [adding] simple things like a dartboard, or simple games,” Klein said. “We’ve got the Gaming Guild that meets right down in the basement, and so trying to bring some of those games up and have it be a social spot where you can play a game and hang out.”
In the future, 55th plans to add further new and exciting events. Some potential candidates include music events, karaoke and open mic nights, or trivia nights. They may also add games to the space, such as a pool table or dart board for the people who want to hang out but are not as interested in watching what is streaming.
“I think the biggest challenge we’ve had is trying to come up with ideas to keep people here [at 55th],” Brown said. “Even with the [football] games, people will come in for five minutes, order something and watch what’s streaming, then pass through. So, we hope to transform the space to help keep people here longer.”
The staff at 55th are also open for event requests from students.
“If you know someone part of the [FLAME] club and you have a suggestion, don’t be afraid to offer it,” Wanninger said. “It’s hard for us to go out there and talk to everyone, and there are times when we think we know what we’re doing, but we are just guessing in hopes that it works. So, feel free to offer us suggestions.”
Photo credit: Daniel Ketchelos