Chobani Cafe’s Student Staff Sensations

When you walk into the Chobani Cafe in Case-Geyer Library, your eye might catch the hoards of brown paper bags filled with orders lining the countertop, awaiting pick-up by students. Sophomores Diya Mehta and Abbey Bonino play a large part in churning out these orders and accommodating students in need of a study break or food for some brainpower.

Bonino is the veteran of these two student-workers. She started working in the cafe at the beginning of her first year on campus. She applied to Chobani wanting to find a work-study job but has since stayed in the role out of much more than obligation. 

“I have continued to work there due to my amazing coworkers, flexible hours and wonderful job perks,” Bonino said. 

Bonino worked two four-hour shifts in a week last year, spending most of this time “on the line” or at the register. This year, though, her workload as an intended chemistry concentrator has significantly increased, so she’s cut down to one shift a week. Bonino acknowledged the flexibility of Chobani’s management in helping her handle her work-life-school balance. 

While these four-hour shifts are an undeniably intense commitment, Mehta explained that the shifts can really fly by. Mehta joined the Chobani staff because her roommate, sophomore Lilly Sweeney, had worked there previously and had highly recommended it to her. Now, the pair often finds themselves working shifts together — sometimes they’re even able to put out their speaker and cue up their favorite songs to dance and sing to — making for a fun and relaxed work environment. 

As a new employee this fall, Mehta works three four-hour shifts a week. She started with food-prepping in the back kitchen but has since transitioned to line-prep work, where she delegates the creation and salad stations.

While some Colgate students like Mehta and Bonino work part-time roles at the cafe, most of the workers at Chobani are not students. As students can get caught up in the “Colgate bubble,” often interacting exclusively with similar demographics, Mehta explained that she appreciates the fresh perspectives her Chobani coworkers can bring to the table. 

“It’s actually pretty eye-opening working with people outside of the Colgate student demographic because it’s a look into the lives of people who aren’t in college. We don’t talk about school work or academics, and they always have great stories to share,” Mehta explained.

Bonino echoed these sentiments about the opportunity to work outside the Colgate bubble, without leaving Case-Geyer Library.

“I love being surrounded by people my age, but spending time with the full-time workers is a nice break from the constant college life demographic. They also often have good advice from having kids themselves, or having had similar experiences when they were my age,” Bonino said.

By nature of the job, Bonino and Mehta often encounter their Colgate peers.

“I love having interactions with other students, just quick conversations that make the job feel much easier. Also, sometimes students will give small compliments or have a longer conversation, and that is definitely very rewarding,” Mehta said. 

Bonino also spoke highly of the students coming to enjoy Chobani.

“It is a little strange when you see someone you know from a class or other place on campus [when working], but I’ve never had a bad interaction, everyone is always politely inquisitive,” she said. “I would say the most gratifying part of my job is seeing fellow students enjoy the food that we make for them.”

Michael Stagnaro, Chobani Cafe manager, sang praises about Bonino, Mehta and the other students who work there. 

“I think it’s absolutely great [that students can work at Chobani]. They’re an integral part of our program and the regular staff really enjoys interacting with them. It’s like the fountain of youth for me — it’s wonderful and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. 

Next time you’re picking up your order in Chobani, make sure to thank the student-workers and other staff alike. While the online ordering system may seem robotic, people like Mehta and Bonino are crafting orders with care and intent. Maybe even try Bonino’s favorite item — the pistachio and dark chocolate yogurt bowl.