Saxbys Coffee closes, and an intimate community goes with it
When the “FOR LEASE” sign appeared in the window of Saxbys Coffee Shop on Main Street, rumors among employees started swirling, according to former Saxbys barista Krista Webster.
Two weeks later, rumors came to fruition with an unexpected visit from the Saxbys Headquarters and a sobering announcement: after ten years at 57 South Main Street, the store would be closing its doors.
“It was sad, really sad. Lots of people cried, actually,” Webster said.
It wasn’t just the impending lack of employment that spurred the waterworks, but the loss of community and familiarity.
“It was such an intimate environment, it was really, really wonderful,” Webster said. “We were all friends.”
The team was called into a mandatory meeting in early December with no explanation of what was to come.
“I don’t think anyone expected it that night,” former team member Josh Pompeo said. “When we were all talking about it, we thought we were going to do team building or something. No one in that building expected this to happen.”
The company cited financial concerns due to loss of revenue from the closed West Campus dorms, telling the employees that it didn’t make financial sense to renew their lease. The staff was given two weeks notice of the store’s closing, a week’s severance pay and a job offer at another Saxbys location in Philadelphia, should they want it.
“The two weeks were nowhere close to what we needed,” Pompeo said. “Especially because it was actually more like ten days.”
Of the 15 or so workers who made their living at Saxbys, very few had the ability to accept a job in another state, and as such, several employees are still searching for work, Webster said.
A self-described die-hard Saxbys customer and a senior finance major at the university, Julianna Di Nino and several of her Saxbys-loving friends were shocked to learn of the Saxbys closing, calling it a “tragedy.”
“Saxbys was cheap, it was really good, and they always had study spaces,” DiNino said. “The staff was always so nice to me, the coffee was amazing; I really just enjoyed going there.”
Without Saxbys, the business students who relied on the convenient placement of the coffee shop between Lerner and Purnell have struggled to find other caffeinated sources, with many missing their regular Saxbys drop-ins.
The staff was no stranger to regulars, with many customers coming to Saxbys despite it being out of their way to enjoy both the coffee and the service. The staff continued to form relationships up until the last day of the store’s presence on Main Street.
“On the last day, everyone came in,” Pompeo said. “All the regulars. It was like a last goodbye to this small coffee shop. It was a community.”
The relationships formed within Saxbys stemmed beyond the need for coffee; it was a study space, a social gathering, an art gallery of local artists’ paintings — a hub for friendship and communication.
“I think everyone at Saxbys understood we were there for more than just making coffee, it was a whole community,” Pompeo said.