After some delay, Amazon Juices at Global Village Cafe (GVC) opened on Wednesday with a limited menu of coffee, tea and pastries and a slow but steady flow of customers.
The cafe closed in October, when Hoffman’s was evicted. GVC was set to reopen its doors under the new tenant on Jan. 11, but was delayed due to some missing equipment that prevented it from serving juice, smoothies and food.
Amazon Juices owners operate their Capitola location in addition to Cafe Brasil on Mission St. in Santa Cruz. Since expansion was an ongoing plan for co-owner João Luiz Frota, transition to the campus space wasn’t difficult, especially given that the size and partial kitchen are similar to their Amazon Juices location.
“When we opened Amazon Juices, I tried to make it simple, good recipes and good food and juices. The goal was to open second, third, fourth locations,” Frota said. “But [associate university librarian] John [Bono] found us, and I always dreamed to have an opportunity up here.”
Since its closure, GVC was reconstructed to center the display case to accommodate an additional register and line space. One line will be for standard orders while the other will be an express line where customers can order coffee, juice and pastries.
A new feature of the cafe will be an app that customers can use to order and pay for their food. The app will text the customer once their food is ready to be picked up and they can enter the express line rather than wait in the regular line. The app is not finished yet, but Frota hopes it will be ready by the end of February.
“What we heard from students is what’s difficult is to come down and order food to take back up, but the line was prohibitive,” Bono said.
Amazon Juices’ prices are slightly higher than Hoffman’s, ranging from $8-10 for sandwiches and plates. Menu items include breakfast sandwiches and burritos, hot and cold sandwiches, rice bowls and plates. The price jump has some students concerned.
“The sandwiches are a lot more expensive. You used to be able to order half sandwiches, now it’s whole sandwiches and they’re near $10,” said third-year student Bianca Garcia.
Additional changes include a machine that will cook hot sandwiches as well as eggs for the breakfast sandwiches and burritos. The menu will also feature rotating specials which may become permanent depending on student feedback and interest.
“They’re starting out with the Amazon Juices menu they have on 41st. We agreed that they will try new specials to see what people really like,” Bono said. “One of the things we struggled with with Hoffman’s was there were a number of really popular things on the menu, but the menu seemed not to evolve over time. We thought that was a missed opportunity.”
Frota and Bono both noted it was important that Hoffman’s employees who worked at GVC get carried over in the move, and Frota said around five of the previous employees will work at Amazon Juices and were trained at the Capitola location.
Bono is hopeful the transition will work well for the GVC space.
“Although we were contacted by many [vendors] when the Hoffman’s departure was publicized that were interested in operating here, no one really demonstrated that they had a concept that could be operationalized here,” Bono said. “[Co-owners] João Luiz and Natasha demonstrated that it could be successful and they share the food values that remain important in this space.”