The newly renovated Saxbys at the Barge opened its doors to the Hamilton community on September 13. It was announced in July that the Barge, previously owned by Colgate University and the Hamilton Initiative, would be owned and operated by Saxbys Coffee.
The Barge Canal Coffee Company was created in 1996 to facilitate an alcohol-free social environment for Colgate students and the surrounding Hamilton community. After 18 years of success and growing community support, the much-loved coffee shop, affectionately referred to as “Hamilton’s living room,” found new ownership and revitalization under Saxbys Coffee.
“We believe in making your life better, one cup at a time. Each Saxbys café is created to serve its surrounding community while it serves [its] guests,” the Saxbys Coffee website said.
Saxbys Coffee was created in 2005 by Nick Bayer. His goal for the company was to keep local cafés community specific while facilitating community growth. There are currently 39 locations spread throughout the East Coast. Their long-term goal is to have more locations in urban areas and on college campuses.
“When we found out about the Barge, we immediately knew it would be the perfect fit. The Barge is a community fixture for Hamilton residents and Colgate students and staff alike, and our number one priority as a company is to support the community,” Bayer said in a recent interview with Radio Free Hamilton.
“I’m absolutely blown away by the support the Barge has historically received from both the Hamilton community as well as the Colgate community … I’ll know we’re successful when we come into the café a year in and see students studying right next to a group of Hamiltonians talking town gossip. It is extremely important to us that both communities see Saxbys at the Barge as their home away from home,” Bayer said.
Renovations to Saxbys at the Barge include more high-tech coffee-making equipment, as well as fresh coats of paint and new furniture. Local artwork is featured as some of the main décor, further integrating the community into the comfortable atmosphere of the café.
Though most students know of the recent ownership changes to what was formerly known as the Barge, few have actually seen the newly renovated space.
When the changes in ownership were initially announced in July, some Hamilton community members expressed their concern online that the Barge would
“Yes, it’s time to see a renovation of our old friend the Barge … All I would ask is that Manager Judy Schenk would be given full reign to carry over her sense of what made The Barge special,” wrote a community member in response to Colgate’s announcement about the upcoming changes.
Other community members also
expressed their worry that Schenk, who has been the Barge’s manager since its creation, would no longer be in that capacity under Saxbys’ management. Saxbys’ mission however, according to their website, is not to radically change the Barge but to outfit it to better serve the community.
Among the changes in ownership come changes to the menu. Saxbys at the Barge features cold brew iced-coffee, smoothies and made-to-order sandwiches and soups. Beyer promises that certain Barge favorites such as the chicken chili will still be staples of Saxbys at the Barge.
Although there is a change in décor and in the menu, Saxbys at the Barge is committed to fulfilling the community needs, as well as to maintaining the original character of the Barge.