grown, the café inside the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore at 413 Main Street in Middletown, has announced that it will end its operations in that space.
The Middletown location was the only Connecticut outpost of the USDA-certified organic fast-food chain. grown has operated inside the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore since the bookstore opened in May 2017. The franchise is owned by Shannon Allen, a Middletown native.
At Wesleyan, as at all of its locations, grown prides itself on catering to all diets and food sensitivities, and on serving inclusive, wholesome options for everyone. Its menu includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with fresh-pressed juices, smoothies, and espresso drinks. At the Wesleyan location, students were able to use their dining points to make purchases.
“While we will no longer be operating grown at the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore, bringing grown ‘home’ to Middletown has been a proud moment during our journey to reinvent fast food,” the franchise said in a statement. “We have thoroughly enjoyed our time serving students, faculty, and staff, working alongside the Wesleyan University and bookstore teams, and have loved being a part of the bridge between Wesleyan and the entire Middlesex County community. Thank you for continuing to support our mission to bring delicious, nutrient-dense meals made with 100% USDA-certified organic ingredients to busy people everywhere.”
grown will continue to operate the café until early December, at which point Wesleyan’s on-campus dining vendor, Bon Appetit, will take over on a temporary basis through the end of the spring semester. Patrons may see a limited and evolving menu in the café this winter as Bon Appetit settles in.
“While we are sad to say goodbye to grown, we wish them luck as they expand their brand to include a franchise model,” said Christopher Olt, Wesleyan’s associate vice president for finance. “In the meantime, we look forward to determining an appropriate future direction for the café, incorporating the valued input of the campus community.”
The University plans to consult with students, faculty, and other campus community members to inform a request for proposals for future vendors of the café. “We feel it is important to step back and really engage the community,” Olt said. A new vendor will likely be selected by the summer, he added.
Though the transition means changes in the café’s menu, its impact on personnel will be minimized. Wesleyan requested Bon Appetit’s management to work with its union and to offer current grown staffers an opportunity for employment in the café after grown’s departure.
“We are grateful to Bon Appetit and Wesleyan Dining’s Resident District Manager Michael Strumpf for their assistance with this plan,” Olt said. “We are confident the café will be in good hands during this transitional period.”