Hard Hat Cafe

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The Hard Hat Cafe
Daily Specials
Snacks and food at affordable prices
Assorted beverages

The Hard Hat Café, also formerly known as The Pit Stop, is the convenience food shop in the Sandford Fleming Building basement, operated by the University of Toronto Engineering Society. It was opened in the fall of 2008 as the first phase of Atrium Renovation Project. It mainly sells an assortment of fast foods and snack foods, such as pizza, Jamaican beef patties, small sandwiches, instant noodle bowls, candy, and drinks.

Menu[edit | edit source]

The Hard Hat Café sells a variety of grab-and-go food items as well as a selection of healthy and large meal options. The Café's menu does vary from year-to-year, but the 2015-2016 selection includes the following:

  • Pizza
  • Ramen noodles
  • Artisan wraps
  • Subway sandwiches
  • Assorted pops
  • Trail mix
  • Pringles chips
  • Assorted chocolates
  • Two-Bite brownies

History[edit | edit source]

In the 2000s, the food outlet space in the basement of the Sandford Fleming Building had been run by Sodexo, followed by Aramark, until the Atrium Renovation Project in 2008. During these years, many concerns were raised by engineering students regarding the quality and price of the food served, and were unhappy about the nature of services provided by the large multi-national corporations.

The Engineering Society took the issue to the Faculty and University, and they agreed to investigate some of the issues encountered by the students. Additionally, the Engineering Society lobbied for small organizations to be able to bid on individual outlets in the campus-wide food services RFP process, and itself submitted a serious bid to take over operations of the legacy cafeteria space (at that time a ~$300k business). This effort was not immediately successful, but served to underline the students' dissatisfaction with the status quo. By 2007, two important factors coincided that resulted in the founding of Hard Hat Cafe.

First, Aramark (who was running the outlet at the time) announced that they would not renew their lease of the space from the University, as they had been unprofitable during their stay. Second, the Engineering Society finally decided to go through with the Atrium Renovation Project, and combined its proposal for the Atrium renovation with the food outlet space. The University agreed to match funding for the renovation of the food outlet, and lease half of it to the Engineering Society (the other half would eventually be leased by Veda).

The Hard Hat Cafe officially opened in October 2008 under the direction of Jonathan Asmis (the President of EngSoc at the time), and two Cafe managers, Khadem Alam and Carissa Sutjipto.

However, in its first two years of operation, it did not operate as smoothly as intended. The store was closed a few times for various issues in its first year as the Engineering Society learned how to operate the business. Deficits were reported in each of the first two years mainly due to inexperience in the food business and slow reception from students. In 2010, a revised business plan was proposed by the Cafe managers Donnie Yee and Gibran Kichlu with a renewed focus on marketing (including more use of social media and targeted campaigns during F!rosh Week). Pre-made sandwiches and salads were also largely removed from the inventory, as they were easily spoiled and unpopular with students. New products were introduced, such as microwaveable frozen foods, instant noodles, and a wider variety of drinks, which combined for record sales throughout 2010-2011.

Past Managers[edit | edit source]

After 2013, the Ops and Finance positions were no longer in place.

Year Managers
2023-2024 Kelvin Lo Indy 2T5 + PEY Edlyn Li Mech 2T5 +PEY
2022-2023 Anna Hii Civ 2T4 + PEY Lisa Qian ECE 2T4 + PEY
2021-2022 Andre Li Mech 2T3 + PEY Prarthona Paul ECE 2T4
2020-2021 Kohava Mendelsohn EngSci 2T2 + PEY Magdalene Choy Indy 2T2T1 + PEY
2019-2020 Nishad Islam Chem 2T0 ⇒ ArtSci Gabriela Savva Chem 2T1
2018-2019 Jabini Karunanananthan Chem 1T8 + PEY Elizabeth Hii Civ 2T0 + PEY
2017-2018 Wendy Wang EngSci 1T9 + PEY Marawan Zak Civ 1T9 + PEY
2016-2017 Amanda Albaba Indy 1T8 + PEY Annie Yu Mech 1T8 + PEY
2015-2016 Tyler Weil Chem 1T7 + PEY Eric Chong Mech 1T5 + PEY
2014-2015 Lameya Iqbal Mech 1T6 Armando Bablanian ECE 1T6 + PEY
2013-2014 Ena Verma Mech 1T6 + PEY Lillian Zhang Mech 1T6 + PEY
  Operations Finance
2012-2013 Matthew Marji ECE 1T5 Maggie Cai Indy 1T4 + PEY
2011-2012 Vincent Tse Indy 1T3 + PEY Kazem Kutob Indy ???
2010-2011 Gibran Kichlu ??? 1T3 + PEY Donnie Yee Mech 1T3 + PEY
2009-2010 Charlsie Searle Civ 0T8 N/A  
2008-2009 Khadem Alam   Carissa Sutjipto  Chem 0T9 + PEY