Nestled near Pitzer College’s iconic clock tower, a student-operated café embodies an intricate blend of sustainability, community and culinary creativity. A charming bungalow, the Grove House dates back to the 1970s, harmonizing gracefully with the earth.
The Grove House Kitchen, snuggled within the house, is a student-run café featuring delicious lunch, breakfast entrees and refreshments on weekdays to students, faculty and staff.
This magical, storied dwelling is the essence of Pitzer culture and community. Namely, the bonds and connections among the student community of employees at the Grove House Kitchen extend far beyond its commitment to environmental sustainability.
“Each staff member has a deep, personal connection with the space,” said Wynne Chase PZ ’26, a dedicated kitchen team member and a Grove House caretaker. “To us, it’s not just a Grove house; it’s a Grove home.”
Olivia Buist-Thuillier PZ ’25, a student employee of the Grove House Kitchen, described the care every staff member puts into their work.
“Each dish is made with care, love and intention,” Buist-Thuillier said.
According to Buist-Thuillier, one of the most beautiful aspects of working at the café is the opportunity to see people open up and reveal their raw, unfiltered humanity. The shared responsibilities and challenges bring the student employee community closer together, cultivating a passionate, tight-knit family.
“I’ve met people in the space that I didn’t ever think I was going to become close with,” Buist-Thuillier said, “and that’s because it is such a loving environment.”
The decentralized nature of the kitchen offers a place where students can connect and grow together through hands-on learning experiences. Team members understand that their actions directly impact the Pitzer community as a whole.
“Self-accountability is the key to success here,” Buist-Thuillier said. “For instance, if one person doesn’t show up for a prep shift, it can make it difficult to open the following morning.”
The Grove House’s dedication to eco-consciousness is intimately aligned with the earth it stands upon, surrounded by lush gardens filled with golden barrel cacti, swaying palms, yucca and palo verde trees. Appreciating the cycles and creations that nature has to offer, the Grove House also specializes in crafting and catering its menus towards local, seasonal fruit and vegetation throughout the year.
“The menu evolves and changes consistently with seasonal fruits and veggies,” Chase said. “It reflects slight or substantial transformations, keeping the culinary experience fresh and exciting.”
“Currently we are featuring a yummy horchata — an absolute delight,” Buist-Thuillier said.
“Each staff member has a deep, personal connection with the space,” says Wynne Chase PZ ‘26, a dedicated team member and caretaker, “to us, it’s not just a Grove house; it’s a Grove home.”
The kitchen infuses its creations with a touch of individual, creative flair and playful innovation. Namely, the Grove House has accumulated quite the reputation for its pancakes and legendary sandwich “the hal.”
“Our pancakes are known far and wide for how incredibly enormous they are,” Chase said. “And you may customize the dish with any fruits or chocolate chips as you please.”
“The hal is an open-faced breakfast sandwich made with a homemade everything bagel, pesto cream cheese, topped with two fried eggs and carmelized onions,” Buist-Thuillier said, “I like to sprinkle assorted veggies on top.”
Experimentation with foods is a passion among the student workers. The student-operated café thrives on scratch cooking and actively works to integrate more vegan friendly foods, giving life to each dish.
“Presently, we are exploring a vegan egg recipe with a mug bean base, vegan pancake mix and vegan cinnamon roll dough,” said Nozomi Shima PZ ’25, a student worker at the café. “We hope to add more vegan options to increase accessibility for all friends with dietary lifestyles.”
Along with its culinary innovations, the café also fosters a close, cyclical bond with the Pitzer Student Garden.
“We give them our waste to compost, they use it to grow more food, giving it a second life,” Buist-Thuillier said. “We also source herbs from the garden to create our sage and lavender syrups.”
The Grove House’s commitment to strengthening community ties extends to their involvement in Pitzer traditions, such as Harvest Fest, taking place this year on Nov. 4.
“This beloved Pitzer tradition will hopefully be catered by the Grove House, curating fall-themed foods to reflect the spirit of the season,” Chase said.
Chase believes at its heart, the café exudes a calming sense of intimacy and home, providing an accessible and welcoming space by and for the community.
“The Grove House inspires honesty and community care,” Chase said. “It offers a place that feels incredibly safe and comfortable [to me] and in return asks for nothing, but this community of people who love the Grove House are willing to care for it.”
The Grove House Kitchen is open to all students, staff and faculty at the Claremont Colleges between Tuesday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. They accept Flex, Claremont Cash and physical cash as forms of payment.
More information about Pitzer’s Grove House Kitchen can be found through their Instagram: @thegrovehouse.