Emerbee’s, a 600-square-foot café near the center of campus, will be open with fulltime hours Sept. 23 following a soft opening earlier this month and in June. A grand opening celebration is planned for Oct. 3 at 11 a.m.
The name is a play on the neighboring Multidisciplinary Research Building, or MRB, which was completed in January, as well as the partnership between UCR’s Housing, Dining, and Hospitality Services and the entomology department’s Center for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER).
“It sounded kind of folksy to us and fun and approachable,” said Ben Eisenstein, strategic marketing and communications manager for Housing, Dining, and Hospitality Services.
Emerbee’s offers signature drinks infused with orange blossom honey produced in CIBER beehives on campus such as a honey cinnamon latte.
A portion of each sale will benefit CIBER. The café may at some point start selling the campus-raised honey in individual jars with a greater portion of those proceeds also benefiting CIBER.
The bee motif is part of the look of the café which features honeycomb patterns, a yellow-and-black color scheme, and a yellow bee logo on the side of the building and on top of the umbrellas over the tables.
A display wall near the seating area will feature news from CIBER and information about bees and their importance to the global ecosystem.
Barbara Baer-Imhoof, an assistant specialist in pollinator health at CIBER, said the partnership seemed like a good idea since they produce honey as a result of their research.
The proceeds from the café will help pay for a bee keeper’s salary and bee keeping classes while allowing them to devote their main funding towards research, she said. She hopes Emerbee’s can promote a bee-friendly campus and serve as a meeting place for a possible bee-keeping club.
“It’s an exciting time to see how this might work out,” Baer-Imhoof said.
The new café is the first new dining facility since 2014 when the Market at Glen Mor opened and will help meet the needs of the growing campus community, Eisenstein said.
It also fills an important need as the only cafe in that area open at night most days. It will operate from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
The extended hours are meant to cater to students who attend evening classes at the nearby Materials, Science and Engineering building.
“We wanted to make sure we were serving that market,” Eisenstein said. “We wanted to make sure we are taking care of those taking late night classes.”
Customers can order at two outdoor windows, with a digital display menu above, and pick up their food at a different window. Seating is outdoors with five tables that can seat up to 20 people.
As with each of their cafes, dining services has created a menu with some offerings unique to Emerbee’s, Eisenstein said.
In addition to honey-infused drinks, the café will feature an assortment of paninis including sweet options such as a stuffed French toast panini. They’ve also created Pop-Tarts like pastries called “Emer-treats” in flavors including blueberry, cinnamon and chocolate banana.
For the health conscious, the menu includes a roasted butternut squash salad and a vegan “Sloppy Joe.”
The soft opening in June attracted diners curious to try out the menu and lured by a half-off promotion.
“I wanted to try a little bit of everything,” said Kevin Cardoza, a second-year student. “They have a good variety, good breakfast options.”
Abigail Angulo and Elizabeth Ramirez, both third-year students, said they attend classes at the Material Science and Engineering building and expect to dine at Emerbee’s in the future.
“I just came from class so it’s really convenient,” Ramirez said.
The $1.6 million building, which began construction last summer, is equipped with three panini presses that take one-minute, 18-seconds to make each panini, a rapid cook-over oven, a double-door-fridge, a single-door freezer, and an espresso machine.
“We’re trying to get food in and out quickly,” said Julie Zeno, who as the campus coffee shop manager will oversee the café operations.
Emerbee’s will have a staff of two full-time workers and 25 part-time employees, most of them student employees. Many student employees have asked to work at the new cafe, Zeno said.
“People see the design of it and they fall in love with it,” she said.
More information on the hours, menu and opening date are available at the dining services website.