Scripps’ student-run and beloved Motley Coffeehouse to reopen April 1

A person sits at a table next to the closed door of the "Motley to the View Coffeehouse".
The Motley Coffeehouse will reopen April 1 after a two-year hiatus. (Florence Pun • The Student Life)

Update, April 5 at 12:15 p.m.: The Motley’s opening night celebration was postponed to April 8 due to an increase in campus COVID-19 cases, per an announcement from student leadership, but the coffeehouse began serving drinks April 4.

Freshly brewed coffee, cozy events and barista-favorite playlists will return April 1 as the Motley Coffeehouse opens its doors after a two-year hiatus. The student-run space and café at Scripps College’s Seal Court closed in 2020 due to COVID-19 and has not reopened since.

The coffeehouse sells ethically produced and sustainably sourced goods like coffee, pastries and other snacks. The space also doubles as an event space for organizations that fit the feminist and socially responsible mission of the Motley. 

“The Motley was the center of our bustling campus, literally and figuratively,” former Events Manager Medha Gelli SC ’23 told TSL via email. “[It] really did help build our Scripps and 5C community … by fostering community through everyday interaction and a warm environment.”

Since the 5Cs have resumed in-person learning, Scripps students have been working tirelessly to try and revive the Motley, especially for graduating students who were last able to experience the Motley in their sophomore year.

The effort was led successfully by personnel manager Uma Nagarajan-Swenson SC ’22, barista lead Diya Pereira SC ’22 and co-head managers Camila Mejia SC ’22 and Maddie Moore SC ’22.

The Motley’s opening night next Friday will carry on years of Motley tradition, featuring a themed night with managers concocting drinks behind the bar.

“Our opening nights are always a blast — we serve special themed drinks, dress up and play music. This upcoming opening night will be extra special, because we are opening after more than two years of hibernation,” social media coordinator Sophie Navratil SC ’22 said via email.

Navratil said that anyone is welcome at the Motley — students can pay using Flex, Claremont Cash or credit card.

“For the most part, [the] Motley is going to look pretty similar to what it was before … the biggest [difference] is we’re not serving a lot of the products … because of the logistics of opening after COVID-19,” product manager Kathryn Sensenig SC ’22 told TSL. 

Sensenig added that the essentials at the Motley will still be offered, including most coffee drinks, an extensive range of tea, Guayakí Yerba Mate and small snacks such as mac and cheese packets and yogurt.

“In a way, this is a soft opening of the Motley because we’re open for such a short time and … offering [fewer] products,” she said. “The Motley is really important to us and we realize how important a space it is, for both the Scripps community and [the] 5C community, and the goal of this opening is to get [the Motley] revitalized … and make the process easier for the next semester.”

Navratil agreed. “[It] is important to me to ensure that the Motley be a safe and special place for a new generation of 5C students,” she said.

Sensenig also highlighted that the Motley is making further changes to adhere to its mission statements. These changes include discontinuing purchases from Amazon amid reports of malicious worker treatment and lack of sustainability. Instead, the Motley will purchase solely from local or ethical vendors who have a record of treating workers fairly. 

“I’m so happy that the first and second years will get to experience this part of Scripps’ student life — a little more busy and exciting than the rest of campus — and that seniors will be able to get their last drinks from our iconic coffeehouse,” Gelli said. “Honestly, we’re all so thrilled for the Motley’s reopening that whatever they pull off will bring [the student body] joy.”

The Motley also intends on continuing its sponsorship program this upcoming fall semester, according to Sensenig. The scholarship funds student projects that align with the Motley’s goals.

In 2019, Scripps also announced a remodeling of the space, which was halted amid the pandemic.

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