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Released January 07, 2005


HATTIESBURG - Visiting The University of Southern Mississippi Thursday to ponder a potential transfer, University of South Alabama student Charlotte Gadilhe searched in vain for a Starbucks Coffee while in Hattiesburg.

Imagine her surprise when she stopped by the Southern Miss library to find employees busily readying a Starbucks Coffee Shop for its Monday opening.

"When I came in the building and saw it, I couldn't believe it. We don't have anything like this where I go to school," said Gadilhe, thumbing through a university class schedule guide near the exterior of the recently installed coffee shop. "I drove up and down Highway 49 when I got to Hattiesburg looking for a Starbucks."

Students returning to Southern Miss next week will have that and much more in store, as two of the hottest commodities on campus - food and parking spaces - are expanding in supply. In addition to Starbucks, an Einstein Bros. Bagels is opening on the ground floor of the new International Studies Building. Also, the former site of West Building Supplies on West Fourth Street is now a parking lot, where 400 new parking spaces will become available this month.

"It will be open-zone parking and will help alleviate some of the parking crunch associated with the ongoing construction on campus," Mike Mitchell, assistant dean of students, said.

Managers from both Starbucks and Einstein Bros. Bagel Co. launched "soft openings" for faculty and staff Friday. Both businesses expect to be in full swing early next week.

The Southern Miss Starbucks, which will employ about 25 people, including students, is the largest in the state, according to Pat Foley, resident district manager with Southern Miss Dining Services. A fully licensed Starbucks, the coffee shop will offer a full beverage menu, along with assorted pastries.

On Thursday, employees from both stores were putting the finishing touches on the interiors, stocking goods and completing training. Starbucks employees are required to complete one week of classroom training, followed by one week of in-store training with an emphasis on a technique they call "legendary training."

"There's basic service, which is like, 'Thank You' and "Hi, how are you?' and then there's 'legendary' service, where the employee really takes the time to get to know the customer," said Starbucks manager Theresa Mack, a 15-year employee of Southern Miss who graduated with a degree in hotel and restaurant management.

"As much time as many of the students spend in the library, we want to make them feel like they're in a home-away-from-home when they're in here," Mack said.

Einstein Bros. Bagels offers a different kind of dining experience. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (7:15 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) Monday through Thursday, and for breakfast and lunch on Friday (7:15 a.m.-2:30 p.m.), Einstein Bros. Bagels features an eclectic menu, using only the freshest ingredients. While it offers sandwiches, coffee, and snacks like fresh fruit, its claim to fame is - you guessed it - bagels.

"These bagels - there's nothing else like them in Hattiesburg," said Bob Lowe, Director of Food Service at Southern Miss. "People aren't real sure what to expect, but they're very excited (about the opening)."


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April 1, 2005 11:10 AM