Espresso Roma Cafe May Be Replaced


The University Centers Advisory Board is actively considering replacements for Price Center’s Espresso Roma Cafe, following difficulties with economic viability. Possible replacements include Starbucks Corporation, although no official negotiations have begun.

“I cannot stress enough that as of right now we aren’t bringing Starbucks on,” former UCAB chair Albert Trujillo said, who completed his time as chair earlier this week.

UCAB is not the only board considering changes to campus coffee locations — Geisel Library’s Dolores Davies notes that a proposed library coffee vendor is “more than a rumor,” though specifics are still unavailable.

While Starbucks has expressed interest for several years in opening a location on campus, UCAB only recently invited company representatives in to give a presentation at the beginning of May. Presenters discussed Starbucks’ fair trade and sustainability packages, an aspect important to UCSD’s commitment to fair trade and green practices. 

Voting on student space allocation falls to UCAB, though there is no set date or deadline for a vote, and UCSD’s Fair Trade Advisory Committee could impose stricter campuswide policies, potentially barring Starbucks and other companies from the university. Manager Aaron Lunetta of Espresso Roma points out that the cafe is currently fair trade based, unlike Starbucks, and that students have consistently supported fair trade practices.

Lunetta hears rumors about Starbucks around this time every year.

“Now our lease is monthly,” Lunetta said. “But before it was yearly, and it was [renewed] every June.”

Past changes to Espresso Roma’s lease have been a part of the struggle to make the space economically viable.

“We gave them [Roma] some room for improvement,” Trujillo said. “And it wasn’t reflected the following year. That’s why we went with the month-to-month lease.” 

UCAB is set on keeping the space as a coffee shop or cafe of some kind, seeking a replacement whose increased profits will maximize UCAB’s revenue.

Lunetta says that neither he nor Espresso Roma’s corporate offices have been informed of definite changes. He plans on remodeling Espresso Roma in the near future, with the cafe remaining in its current location.

However, it is UCAB who ultimately manages the space. Any remodeling must be done through University Centers, and according to Trujillo, the long-term plan is overhaul.

“The idea is to replace them [Roma] altogether,” he said.

Starbucks or any other replacement would also fall under the same existing restrictions — pricing, hours, decor and Triton Cash policies — all determined by UCAB.

This replacement might mark the first major change to what Lunetta says is PC’s oldest resident merchant. 

“We’ve been here since 1989, when Price Center first opened,” he said. “We’re the only restaurant that’s still here since 1989, and I’d like to keep this spot.”