Challah, chai, cheese, croissants and coffee: The 5 Cs keeping Claremont students afloat

A drawing of challah, a bowl of mac and cheese, a cup of coffee, and a boba tea.
From a late-night boba shop to a gooey mac-and-cheese wonderland, these 4 student-run food services are satisfying 5C students’ cravings. (Nora Wu • The Student Life)

Four student-run businesses — Claremont Challah, the Mac Shack, Milk & Honey and The Motley — are creating cuisine and community across the Claremont Colleges. Each with a unique flavor and mission, students are fed and paid by virtue of one another.

Claremont Challah

Picture this: You’re frantically writing a philosophy essay for the Friday class you routinely regret registering for. You’re on the brink — exhausted, grumpy and fed up with Foucault. The only thing that could keep you going? A warm loaf of chocolate chip cinnamon bread. Luckily, the Claremont Challah Club is here to provide just that (and more)!

Every Thursday at 9:45 p.m. and Friday at 9:15 a.m., this 5C club sells challah at Pomona College’s Smith Campus Center. Although the bread is traditionally Jewish, the club isn’t religiously affiliated, and everyone is encouraged to bake, sell and consume the carbohydrate-y goodness.

When buying a loaf, you’ll likely run into Claire Nalebuff SC ’25. She’s a Claremont Challah baker-turned-board-member.

“I started by being a volunteer — baking — and I really enjoyed it so I hopped onto the board,” Nalebuff said. “I really enjoy eating the bread and the fact that [the money] goes towards charity. It’s a great way to spend your flex dollars.”

All proceeds generated from Claremont Challah are sent to local food charities at the end of the semester, something that excites many of its regular patrons. Madison Lewis PO ’24 loves supporting the club and its causes.

“It makes me feel good on a physical level and an emotional level and a moral level!,” Lewis said. “It’s a win, win, win.”

The Mac Shack

During their first year on campus, Jasper Summers PZ ’25 and Noah Leopold PZ ’25 bonded over their shared love of cooking and recipe development. They floated the possibility of opening a coffee shop or taco stand but eventually landed on mac and cheese. They wanted to create a positive social scene on the weekend that didn’t revolve around parties.

If you’re ever experiencing late-night food cravings, be on the lookout for the Mac Shack. This semester, the Mac Shack returned to 5C students on Nov. 3 — and Nov. 3 only. Harbored within Pitzer College’s Skandera Demonstration Kitchen, they were open from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

What does the Mac Shack sell? Exclusively mac and cheese. However, the business offers interesting ways to spice up its signature dish. Madyson Chung-Lee SC ’27 informed TSL about several pleasant surprises brought by the Mac Shack.

“I got the regular mac and cheese with jalapeños and pickled onions, which was absolutely scrumptious,” Chung-Lee said. “Going into the [Mac Shack], I had no idea what to expect. I thought it was something that took place in the dining hall, but when I got to the demo kitchen, it was bustling with people eating mac and cheese.”

Many students believe that the Mac Shack wields the power to create strong community bonds.

“The Mac Shack experience transcends space and time,” Mary Burgess SC ’27 said. “There is absolutely nothing better than sitting with your friends munching on a glob of Mac in the safe, serene bubble that is the Mac Shack.”

It’s fun for the students… and the macaroni makers, themselves!

“The feeling of bringing satiated smiles to hungry faces is unmatched,” Summers said in an email to TSL.

Lizzie Clark SC ’27 said she enjoyed how the Mac Shack was both offered and supported by 5C students.

“The whole experience helped us bond as a group because we were all in our own little mac and cheese world,” Clark recounted. “One thing that makes this student-run business so special is that it relies on other students and their love for a good meal. Students support students!”

To Amelia Olafsson SC ’27, the simple nature of the Mac Shack serves as a compelling reason for students to visit.

“I like the simple menu,” Olafsson said. “It alleviates much of the burden of choice. You can’t go wrong with the regular mac and cheese. It reminds me of home in the best way possible.”

The Shack is adored by many. This leaves us wondering: when will it be back? Oscar Rigo PZ ’25, a Mac Shack sous chef, has the inside scoop.

“Mac-shack is keeping a low profile at the moment,” Rigo said. “We are students too! But I really love how people are so hyped about us and want us back regularly. We are all unfortunately going abroad next semester, so not until our senior year. But who knows, [there’re] four and half weeks left this semester.”

Milk & Honey

Student-run boba shop Milk & Honey is located in Pomona’s Smith Campus Center. Each Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., parched peers pack Café 47, where the student-run business prepares their favorite drinks.

Milk and Honey offers dozens of bobas and teas to sample. Beyond the boba, however, they play fun music and attract heaps of friendly faces. Tristen Leone PO ’26 expressed her love for the ambiance and beverages.

“I think supporting students who want to make the community more fun and engaging is something that’s really important,” Leone said. “And, I really just love boba! Getting to use my flex on boba is a big win.”

Recent hire Ellie Lian PO ’27 relishes in the fun working environment that she feels Milk & Honey cultivates.

“Making drinks is really fun because it feels like I’m playing real-life Papa’s Pizzeria,” Lian said. “I also really enjoy the people I work with, and all the student customers are very nice and understanding as well.”

The Motley Coffeehouse

To the five of you still living under a rock, unaware of the utopic wonderland that is the Motley, this one’s for you. (Yes — these people do exist).

Founded in 1974 as a non-profit business, the Motley has aspired to its mission “to connect the Claremont Colleges with local and global communities by perpetuating sustainable supply chains, to be a socially responsible business that explores diverse feminist critiques and to foster independent thinking and purposeful change,” according to the Scripps College website.

The Motley works toward its mission by utilizing the space for a variety of programs. They host different student groups, guest lectures, community movie nights and student band performances throughout the semester, as well as famous opening parties.

The business offers the type of community that Isabella Lindsay SC ’26 was searching for as a first-year. Since starting at the Motley last semester, Lindsay has found the work to be a healthy break from high-pressure environments.

“I like the combination of having responsibility but also not feeling scared or stressed because it’s run by other students,” Lindsay said. “They’re really understanding and it’s a lot of fun.”

Emmy Anderson SC ’26 emphasized just how versatile and communal the coffee shop is.

“The Motley is the only place on campus where you can attend a poignant, powerful lecture from an internationally-renowned scholar, participate in a sex workshop and get a delicious treat,” Anderson said. “It’s a central part of the Scripps community – and apparently the Pomona community, and the Pitzer community, and the CMC community and the Mudd community, as the utter impossibility of finding a seat at every hour of the day will show you.”

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