Since Café Frais’ closing last September, the storefront at the corner of Liberty and 23rd street has sat empty. That’s soon to change, as the property is being purchased by The Scherline Group, a real estate development group owned by Lyell Scherline. A family business grown in Allentown, the Group owns property in Pennsylvania, Florida and New York.
With the future plans for the property currently uncertain, Scherline has been working with several classes at Muhlenberg to ascertain what students really want to see from a future business.
“We have been collaborating with a few classes in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at Muhlenberg to find out what the students think would be the best option for the space,” says Scherline. “We wanted to give the students the opportunity to participate in this exploratory process with us.”
Although the style of food that would be offered has yet to be decided with the classes, students have been clear with what they would value in an off-campus dining option.
“Feedback so far from the student community has greatly expressed the desire for affordable prices, a student friendly and cozy environment and a need for late night food options,” explains Scherline. “We will take all this into consideration in our development phase to give the students as well as the local community what they want.”
When it was open, Café Frais had planned to provide a ‘straight to dorm’ delivery service, a perk Scherline is open to pursuing as well.
“We are definitely exploring this route,” says Scherline. ”As the students from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program have informed us that this food delivery service is something that is enticing to the students and very little of this type of service is currently offered on campus.”
Currently, aside from the popular Tavern on Liberty, there are few options for off-campus dining in close proximity to dorms. A new café or restaurant on this property could be an enticing addition to the Muhlenberg community. When Cafe Frais was soon to open in 2017, some students were drawn to the restaurant’s convenient location.
“The idea of getting food without having to go get it is divine, and that it’s a walkable off campus option is also appealing,” said Eric Steinbach ‘19.
Scherline’s work with entrepreneurship students is evidence of the group’s willingness to listen to students’ needs and desires to create a beneficial and successful campus business.
“We would love to work with the Muhlenberg student community to provide job opportunities, student discounts and anything else to make our new home on campus as accommodating as possible for everyone,” Scherline assures.