Everyone on campus knows the Lyons Den. What used to be a chill late-night gathering spot with delicious café drinks and desserts, is now a fresh, bright, and renovated study space! It opened Mar. 1 and is now open from Sunday to Thursday between 1-5 p.m.
Students have worked hard to give the Lyons Den a complete remodeling makeover that follows COVID regulations. I asked managers Bethanee Ricard ’21, Lexy Acosta ’22, and Nina Christenson ’23 about the renovation process. Here’s what they had to say!
To start, I asked the managers what was different about the Lyons Den, and they had a lot of great things to say! Christenson explained what brought about the changes. “Before the pandemic, the Lyons Den was a late-night cafe. We served food and drinks, including our popular milkshakes and pizza bagels, and we hosted a variety of events, from concerts to open tabs. Once the pandemic hit and it was no longer safe to gather socially, we had no choice but to shut down and reevaluate the role of the Lyons Den on campus.”
Ricard explained how the changes created a whole new vibe by replying, “I think the right question would be ‘What isn’t different about the Den?’ Immediately when you walk in the vibe is fresher, brighter, more chilled out, everything you want out of a cozy study space.” In terms of specific changes, Acosta added, “We renovated the Den by adding more lighting, painting the maroon walls blue, and adding earthy decorations in hopes that it will brighten up the space and add tranquility to each and every person’s day as they walk in the door.”
Next, I asked what inspired this process of change. Christenson explained that the change was something that was destined to happen. She said that “For years, it has been a goal of the Lyons Den management to clean the Den up and to reorganize in a way that was more efficient and professional. This kind of overhaul required a lot of time and energy, and it was difficult to do while the Lyons Den was still operating normally.” Then, of course, COVID came along. As Ricard explained, “COVID put an abrupt stop to everyone’s semester, so after regrouping over the summer our main focus as managers was developing a plan to utilize our downtime to tap into the Den’s full potential. We still wanted our baristas to be involved, so through countless zoom and in-person shifts we remodeled the Den, developed a funding proposal and interacted with the Wheaton community through social media.” Essentially, the plan was to “… modernize the den while still maintaining the old charm,” according to Acosta.
I also wanted to know what each manager’s favorite aspect of the Den was. Ricard said, “I really appreciate the little things, so I love the new table coverings, the spacious layout of the furniture, and the little succulents and tea lights on the tables. They are adorable! I also love the new lighting because it is so bright, which is perfect given the Den’s location.” Acosta replied that “I love the succulents and tea lights we put on every table. It not only adds a pop of color and light but it also makes the den stand apart from all other spaces on campus. I personally love lighting a candle because of the calming atmosphere that it provides and I feel like the tea lights emulate that feeling.” Last but not least, Christenson said, “I like how cohesive it is… I really enjoyed discussing what kind of study space we wanted to be, and when we settled on a natural theme it just felt right. I love how relaxing the space is, especially with the ambient music and the sunlight during the day…”
Everyone has a favorite part of their job. Ricard said that her favorite part about working at the Den is “… the opportunity the Lyons Den gives me to interact with the Wheaton community. It is such an easy way to bond with others and strike up conversation. Starting as a barista my freshman year, I’ve come to appreciate the family the Den has become despite the adversity the world has thrown at us. Through the highs and lows, our baristas have been adaptable, committed, and attentive and it’s still a pleasure to work with them.” Acosta also loves the sense of community, he replied. “My favorite part about working at the den is the community that you are introduced to. Every person who enters our doors is not only a customer but a friend. The sense of community at the den is incomparable.” The sense of community seems to be a team favorite at the Den because Christenson also had a very similar answer. She said, “My favorite part about working at the Den is the community. We managers work really well together, and without our baristas, we wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. I value our team and the connection we have; we’re all dedicated to the Den and its message, and during such a difficult year, that connection was needed now more than ever.”
I asked if there was anything they would like to add. In short, the managers wanted to thank Rachel Pink for being “such an attentive and transformative supervisor” according to Ricard, and “acknowledge the support we received from Wheaton staff and the Student Government Association” according to Christenson.
To wrap things up, a reminder from Acosta saying “Don’t be a stranger! Even though the Den is now a study space, we still want to get to know you all and bring back the community we had when we were serving food.”
Thank you to all those who commented for such wonderful responses! Go check out the new and improved Lyons Den!