In 1985, during the fall of their sophomore year, Willamette students Eric Fishman and John Donovan realized that their campus had a problem: there was nowhere for students to hang out in the evening, much less late at night. After the cafeterias closed for dinner, there was no place for a hungry student to grab a snack without going off-campus.

Eric and John believed that they had the solution to this problem: a student-run coffee house that would provide food, beverages, and musical entertainment to Willamette's campus. The following spring, they pitched their idea to then-president Jerry Hudson, supported by adviser Bob Hawkinson. To the surprise of many Willamette administrators, President Hudson supported Fishman and Donovan's idea, and gave them the start-up cash to make their vision a reality.

In the fall of 1986, the Bistro opened its doors for the first time. Armed with their grandmothers' recipes, hand-me-down cafe tables, and a group of 10 enthusiastic student staff, Fishman and Donovan laid the groundwork for what has become a Willamette institution.

Ten years after the Bistro's founding, it was renovated and expanded to its current size. By this time, Open Mic was already a long-standing tradition, and students were almost unable to imagine a Willamette without the Bistro.

The Bistro is coming on its 30-year anniversary since open its doors to the Willamette Community. The Bistro is now a self-sustaining business, almost entirely financially independent from the University. Well over 300 Willamette students have spent a portion of their college years serving lattes behind the counter and baking bars in the kitchen. The Bistro today is a testimony to the innovation, hard work, fun-loving spirit, and “Bistro love” of each of those students.

Willamette University

Willamette Bistro

Address
Putnam University Center, First Floor
Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
Phone
503-370-6900

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