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Five Years, Just a Beginning for the Cornell Tech Café

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When the groundbreaking campus opened, one part of the vision was “river to river views,” East River tides pushing in either direction. From the campus, skylines soared above Manhattan and rose in Queens. The Café embraced that view. Floor-to-ceiling windows filled with light, reduced only by early winter sunsets. 

But after a strong start, COVID slammed the campus, and the café struggled through painful years. With pressures easing, managers are now pulling back the curtains and letting creativity shine in.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

A Roosevelt Island Harbor

Early on, many of us found the Café a great place to unwind while working remotely but also a laid-back location for meetings. Stress was never an issue, and the WiFi was free. 

And the windows opened wide to the campus and views beyond were always filled with life. One day, thick clouds lifted off the river, rising like a parade of ghosts. We didn’t get so much work done that day.

Most though were more mellow. Things were so appealing we took the great foods for granted. The prices were as low as the quality was high. Fresh salads with veggies on demand met fresh coffee, pizza and the indulgence of Cornell Ice Cream.

Even under challenging conditions in the pandemic, the crew got delicious healthy food out for residents working through severe restrictions.

In better weather, the café expands into the fresh air.

But It’s a New Day

As COVID stuttered through fresh variations, each a little less threatening than the one before, life on Roosevelt Island and in New York City began a return to normal. A new normal anyway, and the Café greeted them with creative innovations.

Guest chefs began treating hungry visitors with creations developed in their kitchens around the city. Constellation Culinary manager Christian Comacho has lined up a series of popular restaurants on the serving line for a day at a time.

And a team of theme-focused assistants has begun featuring special events. National Coffee Ice Cream Day brought free scoops on a hot day. And Peach Cobler Day followed along with tempting desserts.

On the Horizon for the Cornell Tech Café

The Cornell Tech Café will add some new design features in the next few weeks. But fans of the one-of-a-kind ceiling digital artwork should have no fear. Those won’t change.

Along with all the other changes, the Café will meet the current economic trends with its first price increase in a couple of years. Even with that, they will remain the best bargain for good eating on Roosevelt Island and, the rest of the metropolis across the East River on both sides.

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